Large trucks can be somewhat intimidating to drivers of passenger vehicles. The fear is understandable, as a truck accident can cause serious injuries and death. Federal regulations are serious steps to try to improve safety and some can have uneven results that make it appear as if they are making the roads less safe. When there is a truck crash and people are injured or lose their lives, understanding these rules and how they might have impacted a collision might be a key factor in a filing for compensation.
Truck drivers are now required to follow new service rules and use an Electronic Logging Device to ensure they are adhering to the rules. The goal was to make certain that truck driver fatigue was reduced by preventing drivers from working beyond their limits. However, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2018 had the most fatal accidents involving large trucks since 1988. This happened simultaneously to a reduction in overall fatalities. Advocates for truckers are blaming the uptick on ELDs and the December 2017 requirement that they be used.
The NHTSA says there was a reduction in overall fatalities of 2.4% in 2018 versus 2017 with 36,560 deaths. For those who were riding in the large trucks, there was an increase in fatalities to 885 – a rise of 0.8%. The total number of fatal truck accidents rose by 1.1%. Pedestrians and bicyclists were increasingly vulnerable to fatalities. For pedestrians, there was a rise of 3.4%. For bicyclists, it was 6.3%. These are the most since 1990. Passenger vehicle occupants saw a reduction by 5.2% – a total of 702. Light trucks had a 4.1% decrease – 966 fewer people died. There were noticeable improvements with alcohol-related fatal crashes at 29% of all deaths, which was the fewest since 1982. Distracted driving is also seen as dropping, with a 12.4% decrease.
While there are positives in the new statistics, the truck accident numbers are worrisome. Combining the tally with the complaints from drivers that they are being negatively impacted by ELD rules should give pause to people sharing the road with these large vehicles. If a trucker is concerned about rules requiring that they stop driving and rest, they might speed or take other risky steps to make up lost time. After truck accidents, those confronted with medical expenses, lost income or the loss of a loved one should understand their legal options.