Large trucks are an essential component of the freight shipping industry in Alabama and across the United States. As such, commercial truck operators perform a vital function for the nation’s economy, and most drivers are probably familiar with their presence on the roadways. Unfortunately, people may also be used to hearing reports of fatal truck accidents on the news, simply because they occur so frequently and are often so devastating.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recently released statistics, there were 3,903 people who died in large truck crashes in 2014 – a total of more than 10 deaths per day. This represents over 8 percent of all fatal crashes in 2014. Sixty-eight of the large truck operators involved in fatal crashes that year were alcohol-impaired.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that there were 531 motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians killed in large truck crashes in 2014, which makes up nearly 14 percent of the total number of deaths, and 2,485 people who were in passenger vehicles. Truck drivers are rarely fatally injured in multi-vehicle accidents because of their relative safety in the larger vehicle. In fact, only 234 large truck occupants were killed in collisions involving more than one vehicle, while 353 died in single-vehicle accidents. Most of these were rollover crashes.
Safety experts note that factors contributing to fatal crashes may include longer stopping distances that make it difficult for truckers to respond in traffic situations combined with inclement weather conditions. In addition, the relative size, weight and ground clearance of trucks are more likely to cause damage to passenger vehicles and their occupants.