How serious are truck accidents in California?

Accidents involving semi trucks and other large commercial vehicles are an ongoing problem on California’s freeways, highways and other roads.

Every day, Southern Californians face innumerable risks on the roads. Whether as motorists themselves, passengers, cyclists or even pedestrians, many people are injured or killed in vehicular accidents statewide each year. Crashes involving tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles are part of the problem that continues to plague the state's residents.

A look at the statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tracks motor vehicle fatalities and this information gives a good window into the severity of the problem. The number of California deaths in crashes involving large trucks in recent years includes the following:

  • In 2011, there were 282 truck fatalities.
  • The number of deaths dropped slightly the following year to 261.
  • A total of 259 people died in truck accidents in 2013.
  • In 2014, there was a jump in the number of large truck deaths to 301.
  • The state experienced 296 deaths in large truck collisions in 2015.

Over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015, 39 of those fatalities occurred in Orange County. Neighboring San Diego and Los Angeles counties experienced 70 and 430 large truck deaths, respectively.

Causes of truck crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has tracked truck accidents and their causes. The agency has identified both what it calls critical events and critical reasons that contribute to these wrecks. Critical events are things that may set up the opportunity for a crash to occur. Critical reasons are things that take place immediately before a crash that directly contribute to it.

There are three identified categories of critical reasons for large truck crashes. These are the environment, the vehicle and the driver. Environmental reasons include things like weather or road conditions. Vehicle factors include things like faulty brakes or other mechanical failures.

Critical reasons involving the driver may involve many things. Considered non-performance factors are situations like a driver falling asleep or suffering a medical condition or event. It is believed that an accident on Interstate 15 this summer happened when the driver fell asleep. A minor in the truck died in the wreck.

Performance factors include not properly controlling a truck or exercising an overcompensating maneuver. Driver distraction is considered a recognition factor while decision factors include speeding, tailgating or other actions directly related to the driver's choice in behavior.

Compensation is always important

Clearly the actions of truck drivers can contribute to safety on the road or a lack of safety on the road. When truckers make choices that cause harm or death to innocent people, help is needed. Talking to a lawyer after such a crash is essential as a way of seeking the right level of compensation.

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