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Despite decrease in small vehicle fatalities, truck deaths are up

Pennsylvania motorists will be happy to learn that overall driving fatalities have dipped over the past year. That is the good news. Unfortunately, not all classifications of driving deaths have dropped. One notable exception is deaths involving large trucks.

According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there were slight decreases in deaths caused by car, van and SUV accidents. Motorcycle fatalities showed a significant decrease of 8 percent. However, the number of large truck-accident fatalities showed a relatively significant increase for 2017. According to the Administration, these fatalities increased by 9 percent.

The data includes accidents involving all trucks over 10,000 pounds, so the increase is not exclusive of the largest over-the-road trucks. Furthermore, the study doesn't differentiate situations where the truck operator is at fault versus when another driver caused the crash.

Nevertheless, an increase of nearly 400 deaths in a single year is worthy of looking into potential patterns of behavior to determine if a trend exists. In this realm, fatal collisions due to speeding have decreased. Unfortunately, such crashes due to distracted driving are still high -- comprising over 8 percent of all fatal truck crashes. There is no present data concerning mechanical failure or fatigued driving.

Because of the relative size of large over-the-road trucks and the potential for tragedy, truck drivers are subject to stricter rules than passenger car operators. Their vehicles are subject to more frequent inspections, there are limits on the hours they may drive and hours-of-service logs must be kept.

For someone injured due to a large truck collision, an experienced personal injury attorney will obtain these records and scrutinize them to ensure the driver complied with all applicable regulations. A finding that a truck driver violated a regulation can establish negligence and be the cause of the accident.

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