The number of fatal truck crashes dropped significantly in Florida and across the U.S. between 2003 and 2013, according to a new report issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The FMCSA’s annual crash report, released in early April, shows that fatal crashes involving large trucks fell by 18 percent nationally between 2003 and 2013, while in Florida, they fell by 43 percent.

Still, the report shows, the number of people killed or injured in large truck crashes remains too high. Additionally, those traveling in the other cars involved in those wrecks most often are the victims.

Significant Progress in Reducing Truck Accidents Has Been Made

According to the report, there were 4,335 fatal crashes in the U.S. involving large trucks in 2003 and 5,036 persons killed in those crashes. (A large truck is defined as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.) In 2013, those numbers dropped to 3,541 fatal crashes and 3,964 fatalities.

On Florida roads, the declines were even more impressive. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of fatal crashes in our state dropped from 314 to 179. Also, the number of truck accident fatalities in Florida nearly decreased by 50 percent, going from 365 to 197.

Large Truck Fatal Crashes     Large Truck Crash Fatalities 
U.S. Florida U.S. Florida
2003 4,335 314 2003 5,036 365
2013 3,541 179 2013 3,964 197
Change 794 135 Change 1,072 168
(18%) (43%) (21%) (46%)

However, the report shows that 2013, the last year for which data is available, the safety progress tapered off. For instance, nationally, fatal truck crashes actually rose by 1.5 percent, while in Florida, the number declined by only 1.6 percent.

Report Shines Light on Common Traits of Large Truck Accidents

As the report indicates, tractor-trailers are the types of large trucks that are most often involved in crashes. Between 2011 and 2013, tractor-trailers were involved in an average of 2,292 fatal crashes per year.

In 2013 alone, tractor-trailers were in 2,342 fatal crashes, or 60 percent of all fatal large truck accidents. They were also involved in 45.8 percent of the total injury-producing crashes (22,139).

Additionally, trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more were involved in 82.9 percent of all fatal truck crashes in 2013 (3,238).

Out of the 3,964 persons who died in large truck accidents, the drivers and passengers of the other vehicles involved in the wrecks were most often the victims, accounting for 71.5 percent of the fatalities (2,833).

At least one driver-related factor was present in 1,295 fatal accidents. Speeding proved to be the most frequently cited factor, with distraction/inattention being the second most common factor.

Driver-Related Factors in Fatal Large Truck Crashes (2013)

Factor Total Pct.
Speeding 314 8.1%
Distraction/inattention 229 5.9%
Vision obscured 169 4.4%
Failure to yield right of way 155 4.0%
Failure to keep in proper lane 150 3.9%
Impairment 148 3.8%

The most common driver impairment recorded was fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel (56 fatal crashes, 1.5 percent), while being under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication was close behind (48 fatal crashes, 1.2 percent). Cell phone-related distractions were recorded in only 26 fatal crashes.

Vehicle-related factors were involved in a total of 169 fatal crashes, with tires (57 crashes, 1.5 percent) and brake systems (46 crashes, 1.2 percent) being the most commonly cited defects.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a collision involving a large commercial truck in Florida, the law firm of Frank M. Eidson, P.A., can provide immediate legal assistance. Contact us today by phone or online to get started.


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