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Tractor Trailer Accidents Involving Driver Death Increase

Posted on Dec 13, 2012

Fatalities involving heavy trucks rose slightly last year. But deaths of those drivers are up sharply. The number of people killed in crashes involving large trucks nationwide grew by 1.9 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The impact of a fully loaded, 80,000-pound tractor-trailer traveling at 60 mph produces the explosive power of 4.5 pounds of TNT, according to East Stroudsburg University Associate Professor of Physics Mary Anne Moore. It also equals the energy output of 360,000 light bulbs over an hour.

But of those fatalities, the truck drivers themselves suffered 20 percent more deaths.  NHTSA’s definition of large trucks includes anything greater than 10,000 pounds. The number of fatalities in truck-involved crashes rose by 71 — from 3,686 in 2010 to 3,757 in 2011.

The majority of heavy truck crash fatalities in Pennsylvania, Monroe County and Interstate 80 were the result of rear-end collisions, like the one that killed Snyder, in the early Monday morning fog, according to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation data.

Fatal crashes involving heavy trucks may be on the upswing in Monroe County, bucking a national trend. Six people died in the county during 2010 as the result of a large truck crash, according to federal data. That was a 50 percent increase in one year and a five-year high. The county rated 10th in the state in large-truck crash fatalities.

Monroe County features three major highways, Interstates 80 and 380 and Route 33, that provide a major route between distribution centers and the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations specify that truck trailers, semitrailers and full trailers must have their “cargo secured “» to prevent the cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing or falling from the motor vehicle.” The regulations also state that “cargo must be contained, immobilized or secured”» to prevent shifting upon or within the vehicle to such an extent that the vehicle’s stability or maneuverability is adversely affected.” Regulations regarding securing loads, along with all safety aspects of trucks, are enforced by specially trained personnel, said Sean Brown, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. That includes mostly state police, but there are several local police officers and other personnel with this training.

“However, if an officer without this training pulls over a truck for a traffic violation and has a concern about a safety issue with the truck, they will often call a trained officer to inspect the truck,” he said.

The National Highway and Safety Administration reported Monday that all highway deaths fell to 32,367 in 2011, marking the lowest level since 1949 and a 1.9 percent decrease from the previous year.

The report showed a decreasing trend in deaths and represent a 26 percent decline in traffic fatalities overall since 2005. Americans drove fewer miles last year, but the drop in fatalities outpaced the loss of driver miles.

The 2011 report indicated the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2011, down from 1.11 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010.

Pennsylvania reported the fourth most fatalities among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with 1,324 in 2011. Texas reported the most deaths, with 3,016. Vermont had the least among the states with 55.

If you have been injured in a Pennsylvania car accident, or a loved one has been injured or killed in a tractor trailer or truck accident, contact Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers at 717-888-8888 and we will answer any questions you have about the accident and the legal rights you may have due to the personal injury and losses involving any Pennsylvania car accident, especially if you may need a lawyer. Don’t wait, call 8 and talk to the local Central Pennsylvania Harrisburg car accident lawyers.

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