Dallas personal injury lawyer analyzes 2015 FMCSA Truck wreck stats
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) –– the agency that creates and enforces motor vehicle safety regulations –– recently issued an early version (the full report is due sometime in 2017) of its 2015 truck accident report, and the results showed an eight percent increase in the number of fatal wrecks from 2014 to 2015, which is a source of concern.
“Unfortunately, the FMCSA is typically about a year behind in terms of compiling data, so even though we’re in 2017, the early truck wreck statistics for 2015 have just been released, and the eight percent increase in fatal truck accidents from 2014 to 2015 is troubling,” stated Dallas plaintiff trial attorney Amy Witherite of Eberstein Witherite. “We have to look closely at the numbers to see if we can identify problem areas so that the FMCSA can implement new regulations to help lower accidents in the future.”
Some Key Stats
According to the early version of the FMCSA’s 2015 truck accident report, there were an estimated 4,311 large trucks and buses involved in fatal wrecks in 2015, which is eight percent higher than in 2014.
In addition, fatal truck and bus accidents increased by 26 percent from 2009 to 2015, although the 4,311 fatal wrecks in 2015 was 18 percent lower than the peak in 2005, in which there were 5,231 wrecks.
The statistics were worse with injury accidents, as the FMCSA reported that there was “an increase of 62 percent [of injuries caused by large trucks or buses] from 60,000 in 2009 to 97,000 in 2015.”
The largest percentage of fatal truck accidents in 2015 occurred between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. (17.9%), and an article on the BLR website –– which focuses on solutions for employment, safety and environmental compliance –– shed some light on why this time period was so dangerous:
“Notice that the majority of fatal crashes take place during the day, in clear weather and on dry roads.,” read a portion of the article. “This may have more to do with the number of vehicles on the road during those times than with other factors…”
Fifty-one percent of fatal truck accidents occurred on a two-way/not divided roadway, which provided no barrier to prevent trucks from veering into traffic from the opposite lanes.
Major Contributing Factors
The FMCSA report also found some major contributing factors that lead to truck wrecks in 2015, including driver-related factors, collisions and overturns and speed limits.
Driver-related factors is often referred to as driver behavior, and in 2015, 33 percent of fatal truck wrecks were the result of driver behavior such as speeding, driver distraction and driver inattention.
Direct collisions between a commercial truck and another vehicle caused 74 percent of all fatal truck accidents in 2015, and 78 percent of accidents that only resulted in property damage were due to collisions.
Speed has always been a major contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents, and in 2015, 64 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred in locations where the speed limit exceeded 50 miles per hour.
In fact, a CBSnews.com piece in 2015 pointed out the dangers of raising speed limits as it related to commercial trucks, because the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned that most truck tires are not rated to withstand speeds exceeding 75 mph.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) –– the industry’s largest trade group –– has sounded the alarm about increasing speed limits.
“Raising speed limits at the state level is a bad idea beyond 65 mph,” stated Dave Osiecki, ATA’s Executive Vice President.
But there are also some practical considerations that must be factored into any examination of fatal truck wrecks.
Per a piece on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website that was written after release of the FMCSA’s report, the sheer weight and length of commercial trucks does not provide truck drivers with any margin for error.
“Truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes,” part of the article read. “Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.”
The FMCSA is expected to release the full report in 2017, along with proposed regulations to stem the increase of fatal truck accidents.
Serious injuries caused by truck accidents continue to be a problem for drivers of passenger vehicles. If you have been hurt in a truck wreck, and you live in a major Texas city such as Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, El Paso and Austin, please contact the team at 1-800-TRUCK-WRECK® (1-800-878-2597). We are committed to keeping your life running after a truck accident, and our team of lawyers, investigators and support staff are dedicated to getting you back on your feet and obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]