Traffic fatalities from accidents involving commercial trucks are up 4.4 percent from 2014 to 2015. The finding was part of a report by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An NHTSA Administrator told Overdrive Magazine, a publication dedicated to trucking information, that these accidents generally occur when one of the five factors are present:
- Alcohol. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs continues to be a leading cause of fatal accidents. These accidents increased by 3.2 percent during the studied time period.
- Distraction. Distraction is a growing problem throughout the country. The use of smartphones while driving is known to contribute to accidents and this report provides further proof. Fatalities connected to distraction rose from 3,197 in 2014 to 3,477 in 2015. This translates to an 8.8 percent increase.
- Drowsiness. Driving while sleepy is never a good idea. In this study, operating a vehicle while drowsy was a contributing factor to these accidents. Although a leading cause, the actual number decreased by 3.2 percent during this time period.
- Speeding. Failing to follow posted speed limits is also a factor in these accidents. The report notes a 3 percent increase in speeding related fatalities.
- Seat belt use. Not using a seat belt also results in an increased risk of serious injuries
The federal official notes in the Overdrive interview that there "have been enormous improvements in many of these areas," yet the overall number of fatalities has grown. As a result, more efforts and new solutions to these problems are needed.
Remedies available to victims
Remedies are available to victims and those who lost loved ones due to these types of accidents. One path involves a civil suit. This type of lawsuit holds negligent drivers and/or commercial trucking companies liable for their actions if those actions contributed to the accident.
Those who are involved in these accidents should contact an experienced truck accident attorney to discuss their options and help better ensure their legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.