Almost three-quarters of the deadly commercial vehicle accidents that took place in New Jersey and around the country in 2016 were caused by other vehicles encroaching into traffic lanes used by trucks or buses or animals, people or other obstacles in the roadway. This was one of the key takeaways from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash report. The federal safety watchdog's data also reveals that truck accident fatalities, which have increased sharply in recent years, remain worryingly high.
According to the FMCSA report, 4,317 road users were killed in 2016 in accidents involving semi-tractor trailers or large buses. Truck accident fatalities peaked at 5,231 in 2005, but stricter regulations and more aggressive enforcement efforts helped to reduce the annual death toll by 34 percent between 2005 and 2009. However, virtually all of these gains were lost between 2009 and 2016 as truck and bus accident fatalities rose by 28 percent. The 2016 fatality figures represent an increase of 5.4 percent over the 2015 death toll according to the FMCSA.
While the figures suggest that impairment is not a major cause of fatal truck crashes, they also indicate that distraction and excessive speed remain serious concerns for the logistics sector. According to government crash statistics, intoxicated drivers are involved in more than 20 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents, but the FMCSA report reveals that only 2 percent of the truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had blood alcohol levels of .08 percent or higher. However, speeding and driver distraction were the two most common truck driver-related factors in fatal commercial vehicle accidents according to the FMCSA figures.
When road users are killed in accidents caused by negligent truck drivers or poorly maintained commercial vehicles, experienced personal injury attorneys may pursue wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of their dependent family members. These families are often struggling to cope financially after losing a breadwinner's paycheck, and attorneys might seek compensation for their lost income as well as other expenses like burial costs and medical bills.