In 2016, Howard Abramson, a 16-year executive with the American Trucking Association, the largest trade association for the U.S. trucking industry, wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times entitled “The Trucks are Killing Us.” The fact of the matter is, they are.
“More people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year  than have died in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years, if past trends hold true.”
The trucking industry is a major part of the American economy. 70 percent of all freight transported annually in the United States – a total of more than $650 billion in goods – is delivered by truck. There are approximately 15.5 million trucks operating in the U.S., two million of which are tractor-trailers. Close to 8.5 million people, including 3.5 million drivers, are employed in trucking-related jobs.
As critical as trucks are to the U.S. economy, they pose a significant hazard to other motorists. Large trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars, as they are taller and have greater ground clearance. In accidents involving cars and large trucks – particularly tractor-trailers – cars run the risk of sliding under trucks, which can have devastating results.
Trucking companies are required to ensure that their trucks are operated according to a reasonable standard of care. When trucking companies fail to meet these standards and people are injured as a result, they may be held accountable for their negligence.
Victims of large truck accidents who have suffered catastrophic injuries are encouraged to contact The Becker Law Firm. We will discuss your case with you and advocate on your behalf to ensure that full justice is achieved.
How Do I Know If I Have A Case?
The easiest way to know if you have a case is to meet with a strong legal team. If you suspect you or your family member’s catastrophic injury or wrongful death was caused by a negligent a truck driver or trucking company, contact The Becker Law Firm today.
You can use the contact form on this page or call us at (440) 252-4399. We offer an initial consultation for your case free of charge, and since we accept cases on a contingency basis, you won’t be charged for any fees unless we win your case.
If you aren’t yet ready to talk with us directly, we’ve outlined some facts about trucking accidents that may be important to consider as you are deciding how to proceed in finding full justice.
The Trucks Really Are Killing Us
- Every year, there are between 400,000-500,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks.
- Roughly 20 percent (80,000-100,000) of these accidents result in injuries, and one percent (4,000-5,000) result in fatalities.
- For years, the number of fatalities from large truck crashes in the United States had been decreasing. In 2009, deaths in crashes involving large trucks reached its lowest level since the U.S. Department of Transportation began collecting data on fatal crash deaths in 1979.
- Despite this trend, however, 2009-2016 saw the number of people who died in large truck crashes rise by 27 percent, and the number of truck occupants who died rise by 47 percent.
- In 2016, roughly 11 people per day – nearly 4,000 people total – were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Large truck crashes accounted for 11 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S. and 73 percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2016 involved tractor- trailers.
- Most of the people who are killed in crashes involving large trucks are occupants of cars. Only 17 percent of these of large-truck crash fatalities were occupants of the trucks. Two-thirds were occupants of passenger vehicles and 16 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
- Perhaps most shocking of all, when a fatality occurred in 2016 as the result two-vehicle crash involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck, 97 percent of the time there was a fatality, and the person who died was almost always an occupant of the passenger vehicle.
Negligence in the Trucking Industry
Factors that may contribute to the occurrence of accidents involving trucks, and/or may increase the damage resulting from them, include:
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, or was taking prescription medication that impaired safe operation of the vehicle;
- The driver was engaged in dangerous, reckless, and aggressive driving practices, and was not using defensive driving techniques;
- The driver received inadequate training;
- The driver was speeding to meet tight deadlines and unrealistic employee expectations, or to qualify for compensation incentives for from their employer;
- The driver exceeded the federal regulation of maximum hours-of-service of 11 consecutive hours;
- The driver did not take the mandatory period of rest, and was driving while fatigued;
- The driver’s employer did not conduct routine alcohol and drug testing;
- The driver was allowed to continue to operate the vehicle after instances of behavior that may have contributed to an accident;
- The driver made sudden turns, or turns at high-speed, which led to the truck flipping onto its side;
- The driver drove too close to sidewalks, ditches, potholes, or other obstacles without sufficiently reducing speed;
- The driver did not allow adequate stopping distance between the truck and the vehicle in front of it. Loaded tractor-trailers may need 20-40 percent more distance to stop than passenger vehicles, and the necessary stopping distance increases if road conditions are poor, or if brakes are poorly maintained;
- The load on the trailer fell off due to not being properly secured and supported;
- The trailer was loaded beyond its maximum capacity, causing it to malfunction;
- The truck had mechanical problems and needed repairs;
- Hazardous materials on the truck were transported improperly;
- Regular inspection and preventive maintenance of the truck was not conducted and documented;
- Mandated rear underride guards, which are designed to prevent lower-riding passenger vehicles from sliding beneath tractor trailers, were not installed, were installed improperly, or failed during the accident.
Despite the regulation and institution of additional safety measures, the demands of commerce may cause trucking companies and operators to cut corners, placing fellow drivers who share the roads with large trucks at an increased risk of injury or death.