Commercial Motor Vehicle-Related Fatalities and Injuries


Every day, there are thousands of large commercial vehicles driving several thousand miles on the nation’s roadways. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. In this regard, the administration “develops and enforces data-driven regulations that balance motor carrier safety with efficiency.” Through its management system, it tracks any accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, including large trucks and buses.

According to data from the FMCSA, there were 30,800 fatal crashes throughout the United States in 2012, 3,702 (or 12%) of those involved at least one large truck or bus. Additionally, there were 5,584,000 nonfatal crashes in 2012 and 367,000 (or 6.6%) of those crashes involved at least one large truck or bus. In Texas alone, there were 589 fatalities involving large trucks and buses in 2012. This makes Texas number one with the most fatalities and more than doubles the state with the second most fatalities—California with 277 fatalities in 2012.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

It is clear that accidents involving commercial motor vehicles are a serious problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of people each year in the United States. The FMCSA has adopted safety regulations that apply to certain commercial motor vehicles, e.g., vehicles designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers or vehicles above a certain weight. The regulations are intended to make the roadways safer and reduce the number of crashes by requiring commercial vehicle drivers to follow certain driving guidelines.

One of the most common causes of accidents involving commercial vehicles is due to overworked and fatigued drivers. To combat this problem, the FMCSA regulations provide strict guidelines for how much and how often a driver may work. For example, a property-carrying commercial vehicle driver may not drive or start a shift without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty. In addition, a driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Establishing Liability in a Commercial Truck Accident

Notwithstanding these comprehensive regulations, commercial vehicle drivers too often fail to abide by the regulations and do not always use safe driving tactics. When this happens and a commercial truck driver causes an accident, the driver and the company may be liable for damages. In order to establish liability, it generally must be shown that:

  • The truck driver owed the injured party a duty to operate the truck properly so as to avoid injury to others;
  • The truck driver failed to use reasonable care in operating the truck, such as speeding or driving while tired; and
  • The truck driver’s actions caused another driver to suffer injuries or property damage.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you have questions regarding whether a truck driver is liable for your injuries, an experienced Texas truck accident attorney can help you investigate your case. Contact Zehl & Associates’ Texas truck accident lawyers today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Call us today at 1-888-603-3636, or visit with one of our attorneys today in our Houston or Austin office.


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