Over-the-road trucks are a vital part of the economies of Maryland and the nation as a whole. But the economic benefit is coming at a price: fatal crashes involving semi trucks are on the increase in the United States. According to a recent article by a former executive of the American Trucking Associations, the number of deaths in truck accidents went up 17 percent between 2009 and 2013. There were 3,964 deaths in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available.
Semi trucks are responsible for a disproportionate share of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Large trucks drove less than ten percent of the total miles traveled in 2013, yet they were involved in about 12.5 percent of fatal accidents, and about 25 percent of fatal crashes in work zones.
According to the former ATA executive, part of the reason for the increased death toll is resistance by the trucking industry to safety devices like anti-lock brakes, collision-avoidance systems and electronic stability control, for reasons of cost. A large number of tractor-trailer accidents involve trucks rear-ending vehicles that have slowed or stopped in traffic. Collision-avoidance systems could prevent or reduce the severity of these crashes, but so far only about three percent of semi trucks in the U.S. are equipped with this technology.
The trucking industry has also resisted safety rules intended to combat driver fatigue. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that fatigue was a factor in the accident that seriously injured Tracy Morgan and killed comedian James McNair last year.
When a loved one is killed in a fatal semi truck accident caused by driver negligence, faulty truck maintenance or truck driver fatigue, surviving family members have the right to bring a lawsuit and recover damages. Contacting a law firm with experience in semi truck accidents can be an important first step for family members.