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3 Myths Unsafe Trucking Companies Want You to Believe

The trucking industry involves much more than just the trucks you see on the road and the workers who drive, load, and supervise them. The industry also has a powerful lobbying and public relations arm that has little shame about spreading misinformation and outright lies if it serves trucking companies’ interests.

Keep reading to learn about three of the trucking industry’s go-to pieces of propaganda as well as how an attorney can help if the trucking company tries to cover up the truth in your trucking accident case.

Myth #1: Ordinary Passenger Vehicle Drivers Cause Most Trucking Accidents.

This is perhaps the trucking industry’s favorite bit of fiction, and it gets repeated constantly on pro-trucking company blogs and news sites. Usually, the story is based on research that’s funded or aggregated by a trucking company.

For example, this article from the Commercial Carrier Journal claims that 80 percent of car-truck crashes are caused by car drivers, quoting a study from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) — a trucking industry lobbying group — as its source.

However, there are several problems with the various studies that argue passenger vehicle drivers are at fault for most trucking accidents:

  • In general, these studies don’t examine individual crashes to determine the causes of the crash and assign fault. Instead, they rely on data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which is a government census that provides data from fatal motor vehicle crashes. One problem with FARS data is that it only includes crashes that immediately result in deaths and ignores cases where the victim dies later from their injuries.
  • FARS data comes from state government agencies; however, due to limited budgets in these agencies, officers frequently can’t get the accident reconstruction training and specialized equipment they need to make accurate findings about who or what caused a wreck. Often, the real story of the crash doesn’t come out until the family hires a lawyer, who in turn gets professional accident reconstructionists and other experts to work on the case. Unfortunately, the FARS database never gets updated to reflect the facts these experts uncover.
  • The studies typically only study collisions that involve one car and one truck. These crashes often result in fatal injuries to the driver of the car, which means the truck driver’s story is the only one that officers hear.
  • Since the studies only consider one-car-one-truck crashes, they ignore the many multiple-vehicle wrecks that result from truck driver negligence.

There’s no question that passenger vehicle drivers sometimes collide with trucks because of their own reckless actions. However, the data that trucking companies use to show that passenger vehicle drivers are at fault for the vast majority of deadly truck wrecks is unreliable, is incomplete, and often comes from biased sources.

If you’ve been hurt in a devastating truck crash, you can expect that the trucking company will try to place the blame on you. This is usually their go-to tactic against ordinary people who get hit by their trucks. To fight back, you should get help from an experienced trucking accident lawyer right away.

Myth #2: Trucking Safety Is Better Than Ever, and the Decline in Fatalities per 100 Million Truck Miles Traveled Proves It!

Whenever the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) comes out with its annual “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” study, the trucking industry loves to pounce on any decline in the number of deaths in proportion to miles traveled by vehicles.

For example, the FMCSA’s study for 2014 found that large truck and bus crash deaths per 100 million vehicles miles traveled by all motor vehicles decreased by 4 percent from the previous year. That figure then went up 1.7 percent in 2015; however, this still amounts to a net decrease in fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles over the two-year period. That seems like progress, at least on the surface.

However, there are two reasons why this figure is misleading:

  • Since there are no accurate figures for the total number of truck miles traveled each year, the FMCSA only studies truck and bus crash fatalities in relation to the total number of miles traveled by all motor vehicles. This means that if everyday drivers travel more during a year (perhaps because gas prices are low), the number of people killed in truck and bus crashes per 100 million miles of travel can go down even if truck wreck deaths stay the same or increase.
  • The total number of deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers and other big-rig trucks has climbed steadily in recent years. In 2016, 4,317 people died in large truck crashes, which is a 5.4% increase from the previous year and the highest number since 2007.

Playing statistical games to prove an improved safety record while more people die each year is a classic example of how trucking companies abuse data and spread misinformation. If the trucking industry wants to seriously argue that its safety record is getting better, it needs to start creating significant reductions in the annual number of truck wreck deaths.

If you’ve been seriously hurt or a loved one died in a collision with a large truck or bus, it’s important to start investigating all the causes of the wreck right way, including the trucking company’s safety record. Many unsafe and unethical trucking companies violate federal law and safety regulations every day. If you work with an experienced truck accident lawyer who can uncover these violations and show how they contributed to the crash that injured you, you may be able to hold the trucking company responsible and recover financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering.

Myth #3: Implementing Life-Saving Truck Safety Technology Would Put Smaller Trucking Companies out of Business.

Whenever Congress or the FMCSA considers making a rule that would force trucking companies to implement new safety technology, the trucking industry inevitably objects. They almost always claim that the safety measures in question would cost too much to implement, especially for smaller companies.

However, even putting aside the way this argument shamelessly prioritizes profits over human lives, the trucking industry’s claims crumble in light of the facts:

  • A recent study from the AAA Foundation showed that the reduction in annual costs from destructive truck wrecks would far outweigh the money that trucking companies would pay to implement new safety technology like air disc brakes, automatic braking systems (ABS), and lane departure warning systems. AAA also concluded that these technologies together could prevent 63,000 truck collisions per year if trucking companies installed them on all large trucks.
  • Experts estimate that putting these safety measures in place across a fleet would cost only a few thousand dollars per truck. On the other hand, truck and bus crashes cost the transportation industry $118 billion in 2015 alone — not to mention the enormous costs and incredible grief these wrecks created for victims.

The reality is that some greedy trucking companies are so concerned with short-term profits that they won’t even implement innovative, cost-effective technologies that would save lives and pay for themselves in the long term.

If you’ve suffered injuries in a crash involving a large truck, it’s important to work with an experienced trucking attorney who can investigate the trucking company’s track record and practices, including whether they installed available safety technology in their trucks. In some cases, courts have ruled that trucking companies’ failure to implement life-saving technologies constitutes negligent behavior, meaning they’re liable for any crashes that result.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact Trucking Attorney Morgan Adams Today.

If you have suffered injuries or even lost a loved one in a devastating truck crash, Seattle Truck Law Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the expertise and resources needed to guide you through a complex trucking accident claim and fight for justice on your behalf.

Please contact us at (866) 580-4878 or fill out our online contact form if you need help. We offer free initial consultations to assess your situation and discuss your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we achieve a financial recovery on your behalf.

References

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (2017, September 21). Truck safety technology can prevent 63,000 crashes each year [press release]. Retrieved from http://newsroom.aaa.com/2017/09/truck-safety-technology-can-prevent-63000-crashes-year/

Camden, M.C., Medina-Flintsch, A., Hickman, J.S., Miller, A.M. & Hanowski, R.J. (2017). Air disc brakes: Leveraging large-truck technology and engineering to realize safety gains. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from https://aaafoundation.org/air-disc-brakes-leveraging-large-truck-technology-engineering-realize-safety-gains/

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2016, April 15). Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2014. Washington, DC: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2014

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2017, April 7). Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015. Washington, DC: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2017, June). 2017 pocket guide to large truck and bus statistics. Washington, DC: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Office of Analysis, Research, and Technology. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/safety/data-and-statistics/81121/2017-pocket-guide-large-truck-and-bus-statistics-final-508c-0001.pdf

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (2017, December). Large trucks: 2017. Arlington, VA: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks

Jaillet, J. (2013, February 14). 80 percent of car-truck crashes caused by car drivers, ATA reports. Commercial Carrier Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ccjdigital.com/80-percent-of-car-truck-crashes-caused-by-car-drivers-ata-report-says/

NHTSA: Large truck crash fatalities increased in 2016. (2017, October 9). American Trucker. Retrieved from http://www.trucker.com/safety/nhtsa-large-truck-crash-fatalities-increased-2016

U-M Transportation Research Institute. (2007, April 24). Most fatal crashes involving heavy trucks are not the fault of truckers, U-M study says [press release]. Retrieved from http://www.ns.umich.edu/new/releases/2949-most-fatal-crashes-involving-heavy-trucks-are-not-the-fault-of-truckers-u-m-study-says

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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