The trucking industry is trying to spread the word about how drivers of large trucks can keep themselves, other occupants of their cabs, road workers and other drivers safe on California roads.

At the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, held earlier this year in Washington, D.C., some discouraging figures were announced.

  • The percentage of fatal crashes that involved one truck or more rose last year.
  • The number of fatal truck crashes increased in 2017 compared to 2016.
  • The number of fatalities among occupants of large trucks rose each year from 2015 to 2017.
  • The percentage of fatal crashes in work zones involving one large truck or more rose each year from 2015 to 2017.

While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) didn’t cite drivers as being responsible for the statistics, officials said drivers can take responsibility to decrease the risk of accidents by:

  • Wearing their seat belt. Approximately 38 percent of the fatalities among the occupants of trucks – either the driver or their colleagues — weren’t wearing their seat belts. Seat belt usage could have saved 319 lives in 2017.
  • Signaling. According to the FMCSA, large trucks were involved in about 30 percent of fatal crashes in work zones in 2017, an increase of more than 3 percent from 2015. The FMCSA urged drivers to signal early when they are merging into another lane or use their flashers where there is slow or stopped traffic.
  • Avoiding distracted driving. The FMCSA said drivers should do anything that might distract them while driving before hitting the road. That includes adjusting the seat, mirrors or radio so that they can focus on the road. And, of course, drivers were advised to follow all state and federal rules – and that of the trucking company – regarding cellphones.

The safety of all drivers on the road is paramount, and it’s encouraging to see the trucking industry take initiative toward driver safety. Still, it won’t wipe out all accidents. If you or a loved one suffer an injury in a crash with a large truck, an attorney can help you in your attempt to recover any medical expenses, lost wages or other costs you might incur.