Fatalities in crashes involving large trucks rose 4.1% from 2014 to 2015. Specifically, 4,067 people lost their lives in large truck-related crashes.
This is the highest number of truck crash deaths since 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
We also saw a sharp rise in overall traffic deaths in 2015. Our nation lost 35,092 people in traffic crashes in 2015.
“Despite decades of safety improvements, far too many people are killed on our nation’s roads every year.”
– Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
The 7.2 % increase over 2014 marks the end of a five-decade trend of annual decline in crash deaths.
It is also important to note that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities increased to a level not seen in 20 years. Motorcyclist deaths increased more than 8%, as well.
In the Northwest region—Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho—crash fatalities were up 20% over 2014.
Why are crash deaths on the rise again?
It is discouraging to see fatalities on the rise, after so many years of steady decline.
In scratching the surface, NHTSA indicated that job growth and low fuel prices were two factors that led to an increase in driving, including leisure driving and driving by young people.
NHTSA’s administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said: “The data tells us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted or drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled.”
This is all true, but there is much more to these increases, in my opinion.
Secretary Foxx issued a call to action, stating that “solving this problem, will take teamwork …”
It’s time to take driving more seriously.
Not an “accident”
I believe that most truck and automobile crashes are not accidents.
We don’t use the term “accident” at Coluccio Law*. When a person is injured or killed in an incident involving trucks or cars, it is almost always the result of some failure or omission. It is a preventable crash or collision—not an “accident.”
I have dedicated my legal career to helping people that have suffered losses as a result of preventable acts.
In the last 30 years, I have seen that speed commonly plays a role in crashes, as does the failure of drivers to pay proper attention to traffic and highway conditions. Distractions—including cellphones—are now a common factor in preventable crashes.
Operating any vehicle, but particularly a huge commercial truck, takes proper skill and training. Often, this is lacking.
But it is going to take more than that to stop the senseless slaughter on U.S. roads and highways.
It’s time to change the way we think about driving.
We know that truck and automobile crashes result in tremendous pain and loss. Far too many drivers are casual about laws, and hopelessly distracted.
When you’re behind the wheel of any vehicle—not just a commercial truck—operating that vehicle safely is your primary job.
Every time you allow yourself to be distracted from that job, you are increasing the risk of causing serious injury or death to yourself or someone else.
Yet, no one thinks it will happen to them.
But it does happen.
It happened to the 35,092 people killed last year.
And it happened to the hundreds of thousands of people who were hurt.
It is every single driver’s responsibility to drive safely, and reduce crashes.