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Why did large truck crash fatalities rise last year?

Recently-released numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that fewer Americans lost their lives in vehicle crashes in 2017 than in the previous year. Overall, fatalities dropped by almost 2 percent. Further, according to an NHTSA official, "Preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2018 appear to show that this downward trend continues."

There was, however, a glaring exception to that good news. Fatalities due to crashes involving large trucks (those with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 10,000 pounds) rose by 16 percent between 2016 and 2017. When broken down by the type of large truck, tractor-trailer fatalities rose by 5.8 percent and those involving straight trucks jumped 18.7 percent.

Fatal crashes involving large trucks and at least one other vehicle rose considerably more than single-vehicle crashes. However, both were up over 2016.

There is a multitude of factors that likely contributed to that increase. One is that there are more of these trucks on the road.

However, some of these factors involve things that are preventable. For example, the percentage of occupants killed in large trucks who weren't wearing seat belts rose by 16 percent.

Other factors aren't specific to truck drivers or truck fatalities. However, they're worth noting. For example, even though fatalities linked to drunk driving are down, more drivers are testing positive for opioids and other prescription drugs as well as marijuana.

Truck drivers and others riding in large trucks aren't the only victims of truck crashes. In fact, most victims are in other vehicles or not in any vehicle at all. The increase in fatalities among occupants of large trucks rose from 725 to 841 between 2016 and 2017 (16 percent). The number of other people who died in these crashes rose from 3,644 to 3,920 (7.6 percent).

Truck crashes often cause severe injuries and death to those in smaller vehicles. If you've suffered injuries in a truck crash, you may be facing years of medical treatment and rehabilitation and be unable to work for a long time. If you've lost a loved one, you may have lost your primary breadwinner. An experienced Georgia truck accident attorney can determine who can and should be held liable and work to seek the compensation you need and deserve.

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