There are approximately 251 million registered vehicles in the United States alone and in 2004 there were 198.8 million registered drivers with an estimated 6.6 million driver's licenses likely to be issued in 2007-2008, according to information obtained from programs under the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
In 2005, there were nearly 6.4 million auto accidents resulting in approximately 40,000 fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2007, the USDOT reported that:
* There were 236,468 non-fatal large truck accidents
* 54,961 injury-related large truck accidents
* 80,752 injuries due to large truck accidents
Large truck accidents account for a significant portion of vehicle accidents every year and also account for a portion of crash-related injuries and fatalities among drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
According to research conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), fatalities caused by truck accidents are rising and have steadily risen 5.8 percent over a the previous ten-year period. Causes of Truck Accidents There are a plethora of reasons that an individual can become involved in a truck accident, but there are a list of common, reoccurring truck accident scenarios that have been identified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which conducts research on highway collisions involving an array of motor vehicles.
The following are some of the primary causes for a fatality or injury because of a truck crash:
* Trucks hitting pedestrians
* The force of the collision between a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle/vehicles
* Trucks hitting fixed objects
* Loss of control (tire blow out, vehicle failure, weather conditions, etc.)
* Animal in roadway
* Physical driver factor, including falling asleep, heart attack, etc.
Another study conducted by the FMCSA also found that truck accidents will vary based on roadway type, weight of vehicle and cargo body type. The study found that of the three main categories of roadway types (rural, urban and unknown), urban roadways (interstate, freeways, expressways, etc.) accounted for 63 percent of all large truck accidents. Additionally, weight factored into the equation of truck accidents and truck fatalities/injuries.
The study measured truck weight by single unit trucks (two axles, threes axles, etc.) and combination trucks (tractor trucks, truck pulling trailers, etc.). Of these, 62 percent of accidents were made up by combination trucks, specifically the tractor truck pulling a trailer.
The study also detailed the different varieties of truck types involved in accidents:
* Van trucks, including closed van, refrigerated van and open top van
* Dump trucks (rear dump trucks and bottom dump/hopper bottom)
* Tankers (tank-liquid, tank-dry bulk and tank-compressed gas)
Of these trucks, the van trucks accounted for 46 percent of large truck crashes with dump trucks accounting for 16 percent of accidents and flatbed trucks accounting for 15 percent.
Truck Accident Costs While the percentage of truck accidents varies each year, the UMTRI has noted that there is a steady increase of truck accident fatalities and injuries among passengers.
Accompanying this increase is the rising costs per crash. The USDOT funded a study through the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) to determine the average costs of medium and heavy truck crashes.
The study found that: An average truck accident cost $91,112 in 2005.
* Crashes involving truck-tractors with two or three trailers accounted for the most costly crashes averaging $289,549 per crash.
* Truck crashes involving trucks with no trailers and straight trucks cost an average of $56,296 per crash.
* Truck crashes that involved a fatality cost nearly $3,604,518 per crash.
* Whereas, truck crashes involving injury-only crashes averaged at $195,258 per crash.
While the costs of fatal and non-fatal accidents have been considered shockingly high by some, the study noted that these cost estimates excluded additional factors such as:
* mental health costs
* roadside furniture repair costs
* cargo delays
* earnings lost by family and friends involved in or caring for truck accident victims
* the value of schoolwork lost was also not factored
Because of these exclusions, the estimated truck accident costs may even be considerable higher than estimated by the USDOT.
Seeking Assistance after a Truck Accident
It is often difficult for an individual to gauge the devastation that has just occurred after a truck collision. It is important that an individual who has suffered from a truck accident seeks medical attention immediately.
While an individual may feel no pain after an accident, their injuries may be internal and an examination by a medical professional immediately following an accident can ensure that the appropriate safety precautions are taken.
Additionally, it may be necessary for a truck accident victim to consult an experienced truck accident attorney for legal purposes, which may include a legal consultation for a potential truck accident lawsuit.
Developing a truck accident lawsuit may seem to be a drastic measure by some, but when considering the costs associated with a truck accident, whether fatal or non-fatal, it can be deemed a necessary step, one that may provide monetary compensation in return for damages following a truck collision.