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Commercial truck fatalities are down but still cause for concern

For those of us who share Illinois’ expressways and interstate highways with large trucks, some data reported at the end of the year from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) may be reassuring. Even though the number of miles traveled by large trucks like tractor-trailers has increased in recent years, the number of fatal crashes involving them has decreased.

The data, which compared 2016 numbers with those from 2007, showed that in 2016, these trucks traveled almost a combined 288 million miles. That’s up about 20 million from 2011. However, it hasn’t returned to the pre-recession 304 million miles in 2007.

The rate of crashes per 100 million miles declined from over 4 percent in 2007 to 1.34 percent in 2016. That year, more than 3,800 fatal crashes involved a large truck. Most of the people who lose their lives in these crashes (83 percent) are drivers or passengers of other vehicles or other victims outside of the truck.

According to the trucking industry, truck drivers aren’t the ones at fault in most of these crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the trucking industry, says that almost three-quarters of the fatal crashes in 2016 were the fault of another vehicle or person or were caused by an animal or object.

The former head of the American Trucking Associations, who now runs a trucking company, says that thanks to modern technology, trucks “are safer than they were 20 years ago.” Many have systems that help prevent drivers from inadvertently moving out of their lanes, as well as added cameras for better visibility around these massive vehicles. Anti-rollover and stability control systems can help prevent truck accidents that can all too easily snare surrounding vehicles.

Even people who are fortunate enough to survive a commercial truck accident can be left with severe, life-altering injuries. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck crash, it’s essential to determine the reason for it. If the truck driver was at fault or there was an issue with the truck, you may be able to hold the trucking company liable. However, you need experienced legal guidance when dealing with these companies to help ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the compensation you need and deserve.