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FMCSA releases report on 2016's fatal truck crashes

The data on fatal large-truck crashes in 2016 has been thoroughly analyzed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and its findings may be of interest to drivers in New York and across the U.S. Fatal crashes with large trucks resulted in 4,317 fatalities in 2016, which is up from 4,094 in 2015. They also involved more large trucks -- 4,213 compared to the previous year's 4,074. In all, the FMCSA noted a 3 percent increase in the number of these crashes.

While there was a 34 percent decrease in fatal truck and bus crashes from 2005 to 2009, the period from 2009 to 2016 saw a 28 percent increase overall. Between 2015 and 2016, the truck involvement rate remained the same -- 1.46 trucks were in fatal accidents for every 100 million miles traveled. However, 2016 saw more registered trucks on the roads; there were 11.5 million, compared to 11.2 the year before. While 61 percent of the fatal crashes took place in rural areas, 27 percent were on interstate highways. Another 15 percent occurred on rural interstate highways. The majority of fatal crashes happened on weekdays between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

More than 70 percent of accidents were instigated by another driver, person, animal or object that was encroaching upon, or entering, the truck driver's lane. Speeding and inattentive driving were the top driver-related factors.

When truckers cause auto accidents, their employers may be held liable for damages. Victims, for their part, will want their cases evaluated by legal counsel. A lawyer could factor in any comparative negligence, hire third parties to build up proof of the other side's guilt and then negotiate for a settlement. Accident attorneys can usually handle wrongful death suits as well.

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