Preventing Fatal Truck Accidents: Advocating for Safer Roads and Industry Accountability

Crashes involving large trucks amount to a disproportionate number of fatalities on America’s roadways. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4,714 people were killed in commercial truck accidents nationwide in 2021. This number represented a 17% increase from 2020. Most of the fatalities were occupants of other vehicles, with 83% of all deaths occurring among vehicle occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. The remaining deaths were suffered by truck drivers.

The truck industry is vital to our country’s economy. Each day, trucks haul materials and products nationwide. These products and materials are used for critical purposes, including food consumption, research, medical and hospital supplies, and agriculture. As the number of commercial vehicles and trucks continues to increase, so do the chances of catastrophic accidents, and unfortunately, these accidents are statistically likely to involve other vehicles on the roadway.

In response to the potential for catastrophic and fatal truck accidents, Congress and the states have adopted several safety rules and legislation, with initiatives aimed at reducing and preventing the number of trucking fatalities on our country’s streets and highways. Below, we will take a look at some of the statistics surrounding fatal truck crashes and what efforts are being made to prevent them. If you have lost a loved one in a truck crash, you should contact the experienced nationwide deadly truck crash attorneys at Burg Simpson as soon as possible.

When and Where Do Most Fatal Truck Crashes Occur?

Commercial trucks spend a great deal of time on America’s highway and interstate system. However, it may be somewhat surprising that only a minority of fatal truck crashes occur on the interstates. According to the National Security Council, fatal truck crashes in 2021 occurred in the following areas at the following times:

  • 55% occurred in urban areas while 45% took place in rural areas
  • Nearly 74% of fatal truck accidents occurred on non-interstate roadways while about 26% occurred on interstates
  • Approximately 64% of fatalities were reported during the daytime hours
  • More than 5% of fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles happened in work zones
  • September was the month with the highest number of fatal crashes with 515, while February was the lowest, with 289

While these statistics are somewhat counterintuitive, they show us that a fatal truck accident is most likely to occur during the daytime in a city or urban area and on a non-interstate roadway. There are other important factors that must also be considered, including weather conditions and driver negligence or inattention which also play major roles in trucking accidents.

Federal Trucking Safety Laws  Preventing Fatal Truck Accidents: Advocating for Safer Roads and Industry Accountability

In response to growing concerns over the safety of the trucking industry, on January 1, 2000, Congress created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association or the FMCSA. The stated purpose of the organization was to prevent fatalities and injuries associated with commercial vehicle accidents. Since its creation, the FMCSA has been involved in making numerous rules and regulations designed to ensure the safety of truck drivers and other motorists on the road.

Key legislation and rules passed under the FMCSA’s authority include:

  • Hours of service rules: The number of hours that a truck driver may work in a given week is capped in order to avoid driver fatigue, a leading cause of fatal truck crashes. Truck drivers are required to rest for a set number of hours following their shift and cannot drive more than 70 hours over an 8-day period, except under certain limited circumstances
  • Drug and alcohol testing: The FMSCA implemented drug and alcohol testing. These regulations authorize the use of random testing of active truck drivers and require pre-employment drug screens. Drug and alcohol testing is also required immediately following a report of a fatal truck crash.
  • Safety and equipment standards: Maintenance failures are a major cause of serious crashes involving commercial vehicles. It is estimated that equipment failure plays some role in up to 40% of all nationwide truck accidents. The FMCSA has adopted rules governing the inspection and maintenance of trucks. The rules require trucks to undergo routine maintenance and repair and replacement of worn-out parts that commonly lead to crashes, including brakes, axles, rotors, tires, and drivetrain parts.
  • Cargo limits: Cargo shifting presents a major danger to truckers and other vehicles. While a fully loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, the weight of the truck must be distributed properly across the truck’s axles. When a truck has an improper weight distribution, its cargo can shift during travel. A sudden cargo shift leads to the truck being out of balance which can result in a deadly rollover crash.

State Trucking Safety Regulations

In addition to federal laws, each state in the country has also adopted safety provisions designed to reduce and eliminate fatal truck accidents. Many of these states include provisions that are similar or identical to those found in the FMCSA. Colorado, for example, has an hours of service requirement mirroring federal regulations.

All states have enacted laws regarding truck weights and weight distribution. Trucks that violate these standards can face fines or other penalties. Other states have adopted provisions governing driver qualifications, truck maintenance, and required equipment such as tire chains when driving in dangerous weather.

National Truck Crash Attorneys

There is nothing more devastating than losing a loved one in a traffic crash. If your family member was killed in a commercial truck accident you may have legal rights. There are a number of potential grounds for liability, however, the laws are complicated. Trucking accident law is a complex mix of federal and safety regulations. Knowing which laws might apply and how to obtain evidence of violations is a tedious task.

Here at Burg Simpson, our attorneys have the necessary experience to make sure that your rights are protected. We will investigate every possible avenue in order to present your case in the most compelling manner. Our firm stands ready to help you at any time. We offer free consultations for all potential and prospective clients.

To schedule your appointment with one of our national fatal truck accident attorneys, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 637-1207.




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