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Trucking fatalities up by 8.7 percent, but why?

February 22, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

Hike in commercial truck accident deaths  due to economy, driver shortage and trucking company negligence

Fatalities – people who have been killed by  large truck commercial trucks –  increased 8.7% in 2010, according to the most recent report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). These fatality numbers from 2010 are the latest statistics available, but they provide important insight into a dangerous and growing trend with big commercial carriers.

According to the NHTSA’s report:

  • 3,675 people died in truck accidents in 2010, an increase of 295 fatalities since 2009.
  • 19,000 people were seriously injured in truck accidents, a 12 percent increase since 2009.

NHTSA did not specify a specific cause.  I handle truck accident fatalities in Michigan and throughout the country. While the causes are varied with many contributing factors, as an experienced truck accident attorney the trend seems quite simple: there are more trucks on the road due to the gradual economic recovery, but also more unsafe truck drivers on the roads driving them.

But there’s a lot more to the story.

Just because there is more traffic and a better economy doesn’t have to mean that there will be more truck crashes.  That’s the industry angle and it obscures important safety and truck accident prevention discussions that cause way too many people to die every year.

It’s important to remind ourselves that truck accidents are almost never really “accidents.”  They are the result of a bad driving decision, or of cutting mandatory safety corners on brakes or tires, or negligence up the chain of command in many trucking companies; or even by truck safety directors who put pressure and harass  drivers to break the rules, drive over hours, and log more miles.   It’s too easy to just say it’s all because of an improving economy, and if real oversight and safety inspections were to take place, the number of preventable truck crashes on our roads, killing and injuring our friends and family, would plummet.

Also, we must consider the time frame. While the economy was starting a slight upswing, there was actually a slowdown in the trucking industry, causing many truck companies to cut safety corners in efforts to increase their bottom lines. This is still occurring with many of the truck accident cases I have today in Michigan.

I recently wrote about how the trucking industry hurting, and there’s also a lack of qualified, safe drivers.

And as the economy thankfully rebounds and as truck traffic increases, there will also be a substantial increase in truck-related crashes, injuries, and deaths. Dangerous short cuts to safety that endanger us all are not going to disappear anytime soon.

Related information:

What does the national truck driver shortage mean for Michigan?

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