Truck accident deaths on the rise
When we are behind the wheel of our vehicles, we know that there is the potential for an accident at any time. No matter how safe we drive, other motorists may make it impossible to avoid a collision. Many of these accidents will only result in minimal damage to vehicles, with all occupants being able to walk away without injury. However, when a large vehicle is involved in a crash, the odds of a serious injury or death often increase dramatically. State and federal officials have been long concerned with reducing the number of deaths caused by trucking accidents, and have drafted many rules that attempt to make roadways safer. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that regulates the trucking industry within the United States. In the past two years, the agency has been behind a major overhaul of the regulations that govern truck drivers and trucking companies. Officials were concerned that the number of deaths in these accidents was not decreasing, and in fact had seemed to remain relatively constant over the last decade. When examining accident data supplied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2011 concerning truck accidents, it appears that the new rules may not be having the desired impact. In 2010, 3,686 people were killed in trucking accidents. In 2011, that number rose to 3,757, which is an increase of 1.9 percent. Many of these crashes were single-vehicle accidents, meaning that only the truck itself was involved. In 2011, 403 truck drivers died in single-vehicle crashes, compared to 339 in 2010. In multi-vehicle accidents, the number of deaths for the occupants of other vehicles actually decreased, from 2,797 in 2010 to 2,695 in 2011. This marks the second year in a row that the number of fatalities in trucking accidents has increased. Officials examining these statistics are concerned that their safety efforts are not making the impact that they had hoped. Truck drivers themselves may face more scrutiny after the release of these numbers. Many of the past initiatives have focused on the condition of equipment, as well as for harsher penalties for violations such as speeding. Recently, new emphasis has been placed on a driver’s physical condition, because those out-of-shape drivers may not be getting enough rest when they are off-the-road. If you have been injured in a trucking accident, it is important to understand that you have options available to you. Insurance companies may try to get you to settle your case for less than it is worth. Before you settle your claim, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn what you should do next. You need someone who has been through this process before and can help you protect your rights.