Georgia readers may be concerned to learn that fatal motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks jumped by 9 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, according to new federal statistics. The increase occurred even though overall traffic deaths decreased by 1.8 percent during the same 12-month period.

The statistics, which were issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, show that 4,761 people died in large truck accidents in 2017, which is 392 more than died in 2016. Fatal large truck crashes involving multiple vehicles also increased by 8.8 percent last year, while the number of truck driver and truck passenger deaths increased by 16 percent. Overall, 37,133 people died on American roads in 2017, which is a drop from the 37,806 people who died in traffic accidents in 2016.

The federal government defines large trucks as those that weigh 10,000 pounds or more. According to a representative of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a significant percentage of 2017 large truck fatalities involved vehicles that weigh less than 26,000 pounds, which are not always regulated by the agency. Traffic deaths involving trucks weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds doubled between 2016 and 2017.

Truck drivers have a legal responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and professionally. When negligent truck drivers cause commercial vehicle accidents, injured victims have the right to pursue compensation through the court system. An attorney could review a victim’s case and help gather evidence proving a truck driver was at fault in the crash. This evidence could then be used to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. If someone dies as the result of a truck crash, an attorney could help the victim’s family file a wrongful death claim.

Source: Overdrive Online, “Large truck traffic fatalities increased in 2017, bucking overall trend,” Matt Cole, Oct. 3, 2018