NHTSA reports truck accident fatalities increased in 2012

If you have ever been in a car accident, you know that you often only get a few seconds at most to react to the condition that ultimately caused the accident. Despite your best efforts, some accidents are practically unavoidable. When such accidents occur, they can result in property damage and minor to serious injuries. However, when larger vehicles are involved, such as semi-trucks and commercial vehicles, the results are much more likely to be catastrophic.

Unfortunately, trucks' tendency to cause motorist deaths was highlighted in a new report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which showed that fatal truck accidents increased in 2012 (the latest year with data available). According to the report, the NHTSA found that the number of people killed across the nation in truck accidents during this time increased 3.7 percent from 3,781 to 3,921.

In addition, according to the report, the increase in truck accident fatalities is not just affecting drivers of smaller vehicles. The NHTSA also found that the number of occupants of large trucks that were killed increased 8.9 percent from 640 in 2011 to 697 in 2012.

FMCSA responds

Unfortunately, the increase in truck accident fatalities happened despite several safety initiatives over the past decade. Undeterred, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that regulates the trucking industry, has proposed several regulations that it believes would lead to safer roads for truckers and drivers.

According to research by the FMCSA, one of the leading causes of truck accidents is speeding. To help address the problem, the agency has proposed regulations that would require speed limiters in certain large trucks, such as semis. It hopes that slower speeds would give truck drivers more time to react to dangerous conditions on the road and would thus lead to fewer truck accidents overall, in addition to saving fuel.

In addition to speeding, the FMCSA data indicated that another leading cause of truck accidents is truck driver fatigue. As a result, in 2013, the agency implemented changes to the hours of service rules, which regulate how long a truck driver may work. Under the new regulations, truck drivers may only work an average of 70 hours per week, a 12-hour decrease under the old regulations. In addition, drivers are now entitled to a 30-minute rest break for every eight hours worked and must now have a 34-hour rest period once the 70-hour weekly cap on hours has been reached. Since these changes were only recently implemented, their effect on the number of truck accident fatalities has yet to be determined.

Consult an attorney

Although it is possible that future changes to safety regulations would make the roads safer, the changes are not likely to completely eradicate the problem of truck accidents. If a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, you may have the right to compensation under Illinois law. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on your claim and work to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to.