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Why Are Truck Accident Injuries On The Rise?

Tractor trailer accidents are more likely to be fatal than car accidents. Commercial trucks can weigh roughly 20 times what the average passenger vehicle weighs. At 60 mph, a semi has the potential to cause enormous damage to multiple smaller vehicles. The greater chance of causing serious injury or death is part of the reason commercial trucks are required to carry more insurance than cars. While trucks are not getting smaller, a recent report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that fatal accidents are decreasing. The same report found that injuries caused by trucks are on the rise. There is significant speculation about this trend in truck accidents.

A spokesperson from the FMCSA suggested that the numbers did not show a discrepancy. He attributed the numbers to new safety technology that improved the survivability of truck crashes. Another researcher attributed the findings to randomness and suggested that more research was necessary to support any conclusions. Another theory popular among truckers is that changes to the law are responsible for the growing number of injuries suffered in truck crashes. Specifically, the hours of service rules requiring 34 hours spent off duty, including two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in order to restart a driver's work week are to blame, according to some in the industry. 

The rule in question has been suspended pending further research, but it may have impacted injury numbers during the year in question, 2014. Truck drivers argue that the rule forced them to start driving more hours in the daytime, particularly during rush hour. The increase in accidents and decrease in fatalities would then be explained by the fact that more of the trucks in question were driving slowly, due to heavy traffic, when the collisions occurred.

A reduction in fatal truck accidents is a move in the right direction. It is little comfort, however, to the people who have been seriously injured by a semi. Even at low speeds, a truck accident can cause traumatic injuries. The victims of these injuries face massive medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other problems. It is not enough to reduce truck accident deaths. Truck accidents and the resulting injuries need to be addressed.

Source: Overdrive, "Fatalities down, injuries way up. What gives?," by Max Heine, 2 May 2016 

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