Fatal accidents involving tractor-trailers have increased from 2009 to 2016. Although the number of miles that tractor-trailer drivers travel has slightly decreased, the number of fatalities involving the big rigs has increased. California had the second highest number of fatalities in 2017 involving tractor-trailers in the nation.
According to a study conducted by Road Safe America, over 35,000 people died in accidents involving tractor-trailers. Researchers noted that in the states with the most fatalities, the speed limit for truckers was 70 miles an hour or more. Speed is a major factor in fatal accidents involving big rigs because large trucks cannot stop as quickly as the much smaller vehicles with which they share the road.
In 2016, two federal agencies called for new regulations to be put into place requiring tractor-trailers to have speed governors installed to limit their top speed to 65 miles per hour. Reducing the top speed that big rigs can travel allows the vehicles to stop more quickly. Slowing big rigs also increases their fuel efficiency, which is why many trucking companies have voluntarily installed speed governors on their fleets. In addition to speed governors, experts have called for tractor-trailers to be installed with automatic emergency braking systems to counteract driver error in failing to brake quickly enough.
People who have lost loved ones in accidents involving tractor-trailers may wish to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore whether they may be compensated for their loss. This is particularly true where speed was a factor in the crash. Although big rigs are not required to drive at speeds slower than the legal limit, they still may be found to be negligent if they were traveling too fast to brake in time in an emergency.Source: The Trucker, "Road Safe America cites hike in big rig crash deaths, again calls for speed limiters," January 29, 2019