Some people in Massachusetts might describe tractor trailers as a necessity for the success of the nation’s economy. They reportedly carried almost 70 percent of domestic freight last year; however, they are also involved in a great number of fatal auto accidents. While most tractor-trailer drivers are well-trained professionals, even a slight moment of distraction can have devastating consequences for those in the vicinity of the driver. Some note that Congress is considering removing some of the regulations currently in place to protect those on the roadways from tractor-trailer accidents.
According to many statistics, tractor-trailer accidents are a serious concern. Almost 4,000 people were killed in such accidents in 2013 — a number that has risen over the course of the last few years. Recent trends indicate that more people will be killed in a truck accident this year than have been killed in domestic commercial airplane crashes over the last 45 years. Although trucks account for less than 10 percent of miles driven on the country’s roadways, they are believed to be involved in one in eight fatal crashes. Reportedly, these trucks are involved in approximately 25 percent of fatal crashes occurring in construction zones.
While technological improvements — such as anti-lock brakes, airbags and electronic stability control — are believed to have led to a lower rate of fatalities in accidents involving car deaths, those involved in the trucking industry have eschewed these advancements. They claim the costs of implementing increased safety measures would ultimately be passed to consumers. In fact, Congress has considered easing regulations concerning truck drivers, including lowering the driving age from 21 to 18, allowing longer, heavier trucks on the roadways and allowing truck drivers to spend more time behind the wheel each week.
Unfortunately, lives are being lost — including the lives of truck drivers and their passengers. Families who lose loved ones in auto accidents not only must cope with the grief of their loss, but also the financial repercussions. Funeral expenses and lost wages often severely jeopardize a family’s ability make ends meet. Fortunately, Massachusetts victims — including the surviving families of fatal accident victims — have the right to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. While it may do little to lessen their grief, it could result in recompense for the emotional and financial consequences of their loss.
Source: The New York Times, “The Trucks Are Killing Us“, Howard Abramson, Aug. 21, 2015