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Trucking fatalities reach a 29-year high

Sharing the road with commercial trucks makes many Louisiana motorists uneasy, and if you count yourself among them, know that your concerns are not unfounded. According to Trucks.com, while the overall number of road fatalities in the United States declined in recent years, the number of fatalities stemming from crashes involving commercial trucks has actually gone up.

More specifically, 37,133 people lost their lives in total on U.S. roadways in 2017, which is a 2% drop from the year prior. Fatalities resulting from commercial truck crashes, however, spiked 9% that year, with 4,761 people losing their lives in commercial-trucking-related car wrecks in 2017.

Common factors

Many of today's semi-truck crashes share certain elements. For example, in more than 70% of all road fatalities resulting from truck crashes in 2017, the people who lost their lives were not the people driving the trucks, but rather, the people traveling in smaller, non-commercial vehicles. Additionally, the largest increase in truck-crash-related fatalities came from incidents involving trucks that weighed between about 10,000 and 14,000 pounds.

Similarly, distracted driving continues to be a pervasive problem and a main contributor to the nation's road-death toll. Distracted driving may encompass any number of different behaviors, including eating, phone usage, the use of in-dash technologies and so on.

Safety efforts

There are several different explanations as to why truck-crash deaths are rising sharply while other road deaths are declining. Some safety advocates and industry employers are taking steps to help reduce the rising number of commercial-truck-crash-related road deaths. For instance, some employers are investing in new technologies intended to enhance safety, including rear-facing cameras and automatic emergency braking features, among others.

Just how much the adoption of these features may enhance highway safety is not yet known. What is abundantly clear is that there is an obvious need for better training in the trucking industry to reduce the number of lives lost.

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