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Fatal truck crashes rise 9 percent, HOS rules may be to blame

Commercial truckers in Michigan should know that more and more drivers in their industry are getting involved in fatal crashes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that 4,761 people (including about 1,300 truckers) were killed in large-truck crashes in 2017. This was a 9 percent increase from the previous year and the highest level in 29 years.

Representatives of the trucking industry have spoken up about the results and what they believe is behind it all. First, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been singled out for mandating that commercial truckers take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive work hours. Many believe that the break creates unnecessary delays and makes truckers drowsy before their shifts are even done. A further concern is that delays lead to speeding.

For three consecutive years, though, speeding has factored into less and less large-truck accidents. Fatigue continues to be prominent. Many crashes involving a drowsy or sleepy trucker take place at least 20 miles away from rest areas and truck stops, raising concerns about a lack of accessible truck parking.

To ensure safety, many truck fleet owners are relying on driver analytics software. This can monitor a driver's behavior and report instances of speeding or harsh braking. Others are installing technologies like automatic emergency braking in their vehicles.

Negligence encompasses a wide range of actions, including speeding, drowsy driving and distracted driving. If any of these factored into a commercial vehicle accident, an injured victim may be able to file a claim. A successful accident claim could reimburse the plaintiff for past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and more. It could be wise to hire a lawyer, however, since trucking companies will have their own legal team arguing against a settlement.

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