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U.S. truck accident fatality rate climbs amid safety debates

Machines work as well as the people who make and use them. Traffic accident, injury and death rates would drop dramatically if all Montana vehicles were manufactured without defects, maintained properly and operated by qualified drivers who were conscious of others' safety. Commercial vehicle accidents are often highly destructive -- not because trucks are big and heavy but because humans are negligent.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported almost 4,000 people die annually in U.S. large truck accidents. Add to that the pain and suffering of 100,000 accident victims with minor to serious injuries. You would think the automotive industry's technological advancements would pay off in a reduced rate of fatal crashes, but they haven't for deadly collisions involving semi-trucks.

Commercial truck fatalities rose 18 percent from 2009 to 2012. There were 3,921 deaths and 104,000 injuries attributed to U.S. truck accidents in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The deaths – averaging 10 every day – occurred, although the total number of trucks and truck driving miles declined.

No one reason is cited for the increase in truck-related fatalities. Accident victims and legal, industry and government safety experts point fingers in different directions. Trucking companies are blamed for failing to screen, train and monitor drivers, while truck businesses and truckers fault pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines.

Trucker fatigue moved to the forefront of safety debates, when actor Tracy Morgan and others were seriously injured in a truck accident. Government safety regulators and lawmakers weigh concerns about road safety with the interests of the trucking business, vital to the post-recession rebuilding of the national economy.

Critics of the government's hesitancy to over-regulate the trucking industry argue human lives are being sacrificed for business profits. Injured victims and families who've lost loved ones in truck crashes have paid an enormous price. Compensation for losses they've suffered are available in accident liability claims.

Source: NBC News, "Truck Accidents Surge, But There's No National Outcry" Eamon Javers and Jennifer Schlesinger, Jul. 30, 2014

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