Trucking Accidents & Deaths on the Rise

By: Joseph A. Smith

A recent story by CNBC has brought increased light to the fact that trucking accidents and deaths are increasing, yet nothing is being done about it. The article points out that in 2012 there were 3,921 fatalities, and 104,000 injuries from truck crashes, over 10 fatal crashes and 284 injuries each day. In fact, fatal crashes have increased over 18% between 2009 and 2012, even while the distance trucks travel on highways and the number of trucks on highways dropped. Furthermore, the American Trucking Associations estimate that only about 10% of all trucks have some kind of active safety technology.Truck Accident

Rather than find solutions or improvements that can make trucking safer, people seem to be more interested in finger pointing. While some blame unsafe brakes for the accidents, truck industry groups argue that it is people, not the trucks that are the problem. Industry groups are quick to blame legislation that requires truckers to get minimum hours of sleep as one cause, arguing that it just means more trucks are on the roads during morning rush hour. And they also blame the majority of truck crashes on the other drivers, that's right – it's the mom in the minivan who caused the catastrophic crash, not the trucker running on too little sleep trying to cover too many miles. Safety advocates are quick to point out this just is not reality.

And an increasing problem with keeping the roads safe and holding truckers and trucking companies liable for their negligence is emerging – "chameleon carriers". Chameleon carriers are trucking carriers that re-register with the Department of Transportation under new names in order to avoid penalties and liability, including being shut down for having too many safety violations. So when an injured party goes to file suit against a trucking company, suddenly that trucking company does not exist anymore and there is no one to collect a verdict or settlement against. Or Company A, after being shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for having too many violations, re-registers as Company Z so it can get its unsafe trucks and drivers back out on the highways, putting other drivers at risk.

Safety advocates look forward to upcoming safety innovations, including trucks that use radar to detect cars ahead and will brake automatically if the truck gets too close, and eventually fully autonomous trucks which need almost no input from the operator. But it is unclear when these innovations will become a reality or have widespread implementation. For many people who have been injured or killed in trucking accidents these innovations will come far too late, making it so important that if you or someone you love is in an accident with a truck, you contact a firm that has experience in these matters. CSCS has represented countless individuals in tractor trailer cases and ensured they were fully compensated for their losses. If you or someone you know has been injured in a tractor trailer accident, please call the Virginia personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. for a free consultation.