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SIMMS SHOWERS LLP Leesburg & Loudoun County Attorney
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Virginia Ranks Second in Trucking Accidents: Reasons Explained

With the recent economic recovery, the trucking industry has begun to see large increases in transportation needs. This has led to an increase in truck traffic on America’s roadways. Likewise, trucking accidents continue to increase in frequency and severity. Virginia truck accidents are increasing as well.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 1.46 fatal big truck crashes in Virginia per 100 lane-miles of highway during 2012 alone. This puts Virginia in second place for the most truck crash fatalities in the nation per highway density. Virginia has the seventh busiest roadways in America, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In fact, it seems almost every week there are reports of another multiple vehicle trucking accident on Virginia’s roadways. There are two major contributing causes to this trend: driver error and vehicle failure.

Driver Error

When it comes to placing the blame for trucking accidents, it is not as easy as one might think. Following a two-year study by the transportation industry, the FMCSA released a 2007 report explaining the causes of trucking accidents. The results are not surprising. Driver error was the primary cause in 87 percent of all crashes, while 10 percent are attributed primarily to vehicle maintenance and condition and 3 percent to general environmental conditions. This seems to suggest that most accidents were probably preventable.

While there is certainly some overlap in causation, the FMCSA broke down driver error into four sub-categories, as follows:

Driver Non-Performance

  • Falling asleep
  • Emergency illness (heart attack, stroke, etc.)

Driver Recognition

  • Distracted driving
  • Inattention

Driver Decision Making

  • Following too closely
  • Failure to adjust speed

Driver Performance

  • Panic
  • Loss of control

Vehicle Condition

In addition to the things a driver can control in the cab of the truck, there are vehicle maintenance issues. In the same 2007 report, the FMCSA determined that upwards of 10 percent of all crashes stemmed from poor maintenance or outright safety violations, such as poorly maintained brakes, unserviceable tires, or faulty trailer connections. When it comes to maintenance violations reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Virginia again comes in second place.

Injuries in Virginia

Given the rising rate of heavy truck accidents in Virginia, it is important to use extreme caution when operating in crowded interstates and highways where big trucks commonly operate. Although many accidents can be attributed to driver error or maintenance issues, it is also important to consider the role that passenger vehicles play in many accidents. While it may not be unlawful to pass a semi-truck, doing so too rapidly can be dangerous. Likewise, it may not be unlawful or inherently dangerous to stop on a shoulder to fix a door that is ajar, but under certain conditions it can be very dangerous. When there are a lot of trucks on the road or there is inclement weather, you should always use extra caution.

If injured in a trucking accident, contact a Virginia trucking accident attorney who will fight for your rights. The Leesburg attorneys at Simms Showers are prepared to advocate on your behalf immediately.

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Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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