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Why are fatal truck accidents on the rise?

Any kind of car accident has the potential to cause serious damage to both vehicles and people. When one of the vehicles involved is a semi-truck, the risk sharply increases. Most truck drivers are aware of that and take proper precautions, but there are times when some drivers fail to take safety into account.

The number of fatal truck accidents rose from 2009 to 2017 by 42%. One organization focused on truck safety has several theories as to why, and they offer several suggestions to improve the numbers. However, they are not without their critics.

What the numbers say

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that almost 36,000 people died from 2009 to 2017 as a result of a crash involving a big rig. California is one of five states with the highest rate of fatal truck crashes in 2017. Every state except six saw a rise in the numbers.

Road Safe America, a truck safety organization, says the mileage driven hasn’t significantly changed, but fatal crashes rose anyway. Representatives want trucking companies to install speed limiters that would prevent trucks from driving faster than 65 miles per hour. They say that other countries have implemented this technology to great success, but the United States doesn’t require it. Many trucking companies use them, but RSA wants to see it become universal.

Possible benefits

The companies that use speed limiters do so because they lower the crash rates and reduce costs when crashes happen, according to RSA. They even see a savings in fuel and vehicle upkeep. RSA also advocates installing automatic emergency braking, saying countries that use the technology see their truck fatalities plummet.

Critics have concerns

While these safety measures seem like a good idea, some critics are unsure. One trucking association representative says he wants speed limiters installed in all vehicles, not just semi-trucks. He argues that only putting them in tractor trailers creates unsafe conditions, particularly when other, smaller vehicles can drive faster. He attributes the rise in fatal truck crashes to the increase in distracted driving and smart phone use.

He also points to the fact that fatal crashes frequently involve someone who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. In addition, a large portion of truck crashes are due to the driving behaviors of other motorists. He advocates education for both truck drivers and other motorists


Even implementing all of these safety measures doesn’t guarantee that a trucking accident won’t happen. If you’re the unlucky person who gets hit by a semi-truck, statistics don’t really matter to you. You just want justice to prevail and for responsible parties to take accountability.