2009 marked a record year of sorts in trucking safety in the US. Last year, the number of people killed in truck accidents around the country dropped to their lowest numbers since records began to be maintained. But does that really mean that motorists are much safer today?
The Institute Agency for Highway Safety has analyzed truck accident fatality data for 2009. Some of the findings from the analysis:
In all, a total of 3,163 people were killed in truck accidents in the US last year. Out of these, 14% were the occupants of the truck, while 70% were the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved in the collision. The remaining 14% were bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
There is no doubt that trucking safety has increased substantially over the years. However, the decline in truck driver deaths has actually been greater than the decline in motor vehicle passenger deaths in these accidents. Since 1979, there has been a 67% decline in the number of truck driver deaths, while there has been a 47% decline in the number of motor vehicle occupant deaths.
In 2009, 72% of fatalities in truck accidents involved tractor-trailers, while 29% involve single unit trucks.
Speeding continues to be the single biggest contributing factor in truck accidents in the US. This is followed by improper lane changes, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and driver fatigue. Accidents caused by defective truck components constitute a small percentage of accidents every year.
All said and done, the lower numbers of trucking accident fatalities in 2009 could simply be a byproduct of the recession, and the fact that there was lower commercial freight activity last year. As the economy begins to recover, and the trucking industry begins to pick up, we could see those truck accident death numbers rising again.
The Indiana truck accident attorneys at Miller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy represent injured victims of commercial truck accidents across Indiana.