The number of fatal car accidents involving commercial vehicles has rapidly increased over the past two years, according to information recently released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This statement was made recently at the annual FMCSA session at Transportation Research Board in Washington.

The number of individuals killed in accidents involving commercial vehicles, including large semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and buses, increased from 3,193 in 2009 to 5,005 in 2017. For the most part, the individuals who were killed in these accidents were in passenger vehicles.

In 2017, the number of occupants of trucks killed was 841, up from 499 in 2009. The split among the 841 was 717 drivers and 124 passengers.

What is causing the increased number of commercial vehicle fatalities? The assistant administrator and chief safety officer at FMCSA, Jack Van Steenburg, attributes a lack of seat belt usage as one of the main causes for the deaths- but it is not a cause for the increase in accidents.

The FMCSA’s report cites factors and not causes for the increase in tractor-trailer accidents and fatalities. The top factor was speeding, which accounted for 6.3 percent of all accidents. Distracted driving, which included cell phone usage, along with failure to yield, careless driving, consumption of alcohol and drug use followed.

Positive drug tests for drivers of large trucks in fatal crashes has also increased. They were 170 in 2012, 237 in 2016 and 252 in 2017. Of all fatal crashes occurring, 27.2 percent were in work zones in 2016.

Florida was one of the top states with the largest number of truck fatalities reported in 2017.
Five of the states that reported the largest increase of fatalities had one thing in common and that was their speed limit on major highways. All these states, including Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada, have speed limits of 70 mph or more.

According to Road Safe America (RSA), many of these deaths could have been prevented or reduced through use of speed limiting technology and automatic emergency braking systems. This technology is already in existence and could be implemented in many of these situations.

Many other countries have successfully reduced the number of fatal accidents through the use of automatic emergency braking and speed limiting technology. The United States does not require the use of this technology, although most of the semi-trucks on our roads have had this technology built into their systems since the 1990s.

One type of technology is a speed governor, which limits the maximum speed a truck can travel. Many companies use these devices to save on fuel, but they also can save lives and reduce the severity of crashes that do occur.

Another important technology is automatic emergency braking, which alerts truck drivers of approaching vehicles or objects that are either not moving or are slowly moving and applies the brakes if the truck driver fails to slow down.

These devices are encouraged for all truck companies, if they do not already utilize them, to reduce and prevent additional fatalities from occurring. We have some important tips on our blog on how to avoid an auto accident with a semi-truck.


Truck accident cases are often complex and require a knowledgeable and skilled personal injury attorney to help you file a lawsuit. Aronfeld Trial Lawyers handles a diverse range of catastrophic injures and wrongful death claims that result from trucking accidents involving 18-wheelers and collisions with other commercial vehicles. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, tractor-trailer or an 18-wheeler, it is important to contact an experienced Miami Truck Accident Lawyer to help you file a lawsuit. Our firm has the ability and experience to launch comprehensive traffic accident investigations by utilizing a team that includes private detectives, former police and highway patrol officers, accident reconstruction experts, and biomechanical engineers. Our team of professionals can quickly amass the facts, evidence and proof needed to establish liability, and maximize the recovery for our clients. We offer a free initial consultation at your home, office, hotel or hospital. Call us today, we are ready to help.