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Rise in fatal truck and bus accidents

Pennsylvania motorists may not know that the number of large commercial trucks and buses involved in fatal accidents around the country increased by 8 percent in 2015 according to data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that the large truck involvement rate, which is based on the number of fatal crashes for each 100 million miles traveled by semi-tractor trailers, also increased in 2015.

When traffic accident fatalities as a whole increased by an alarming 7 percent in 2015, the National Safety Council said that a booming economy and inexpensive gasoline were largely responsible. However, the vehicle miles traveled by large trucks increased by only 0.3 percent in 2015 according to the FMCSA report while passenger vehicle numbers surged by 3.5 percent. While the 4,311 buses and large trucks involved in fatal accidents in 2015 is well short of the 2005 high, it still represents a 26 percent increase over the 2009 figures.

NHTSA began keeping fatal accident data in 1975. The deadliest year for commercial vehicle accidents was 2005 when 5,231 buses and tractor trailers were involved in deadly crashes. The number of fatal accidents then fell by 34 percent between 2005 and 2009 before once again surging by 20 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Accidents involving semi-tractor trailers are usually investigated thoroughly by law enforcement because lives are often lost and property damage is generally significant. The results could be useful to attorneys who are pursuing civil remedies on behalf of the surviving family members of occupants of other vehicles who have lost their lives in these accidents.

Source: National Public Radio, "2015 Traffic Fatalities Rose By Largest Percent In 50 Years, Safety Group Says", Bill Chappell, Feb. 18, 2016

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