People killed in tractor trailer crashes have increased for the fourth straight year, according to the US Department of Transportation. This bucks a general trend of improving highway safety on American freeways.
Fatalities increased to 3964 in 2013. This included truck drivers and passengers, as well as pedestrians and drivers of other vehicles. This is an increase of .5% from a year earlier, even though total highway deaths dropped 3.1% to 32,719.
Federal regulators believe that new federal rules that mandate stability control on trucks to eliminate or reduce rollovers, as well as future rules to require better underride guards on the rear of trailers, could help to reduce truck deaths.
Another factor, regulators say, is fatigued truck drivers. They say that there needs to be stricter enforcement of rules that limit how many hours drivers can work before taking a break.
Lawmakers in Washington DC want to soon close a loophole that allows some truck drivers to work 82 hours over eight days. That regulation will not be updated and enforced for a year as regulators do research to see if it caused more trucks to get onto the highway during rush hour.
We are glad to read that overall traffic fatalities are falling in the US, but clearly more work needs to be done to reduce truck-related injuries and deaths. Our personal injury legal team has worked on many truck-related crashes over the years in Virginia. Poor safety rules, fatigued drivers and poor maintenance on big rigs can lead to disastrous consequences that ruin and end lives.
One of the biggest settlements we have worked on involved our client being rear ended by a big rig at a stop light in Virginia Beach. The truck essentially ran over our client’s car and caused brain trauma to two children in the back seat. We eventually settled that case for $21 million.