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For Victims of Maryland CMV Accidents: FMCSA Study on Large Truck Crashes

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our experienced personal injury attorneys are fully aware that trucking accidents are some of the most dangerous and potentially lethal of any traffic-related collisions, especially for individuals traveling in passenger cars, minivans and on motorcycles. Even those larger sport utility vehicles, which are much bigger in a relative sense than other passenger vehicles, are no match for a fully-loaded tractor-trailer rig. In general, when an interstate or beltway wreck involves a large commercial motor vehicle (CMV), the odds of occupants in smaller cars and trucks being severely hurt are quite high.

Our legal staff has helped numerous automobile and trucking accident victims who have been injured as a result of another individual’s carelessness or outright negligence. We understand the significant pain and discomfort that can follow in the wake of a severe car, motorcycle or trucking-related roadway collision. In the case of commercial truck wrecks, the difference between being badly hurt or killed can hinge on something as simple as the speed at which the crash occurs or the juxtaposition of the vehicles involved.

Severe bodily injury and sometimes death is known to occur when just two passenger vehicles strike each other on Maryland surface streets or the beltway, but when an 18-wheeler carrying a full load of cargo hits another smaller vehicle, the results can often be tragic. The controlling authorities, such as the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), have understood the danger posed by commercial motor vehicles for many decades. While the sheer size and weight of CMVs poses potentially significant risks to life and property, the need for such large vehicles to maintain a healthy economy means that their presence on our roadways is more or less a necessary evil.

The personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mhzen know the hazards of being involved in a traffic accident with a large commercial truck. Whether the incident involves a medium-sized box truck, a gasoline tanker vehicle or a 50,000-pound tractor-trailer rig, the result of a crash at any significant speed can be tragic for the occupants in the smaller passenger sedan or family minivan. Anyone who has witnessed the aftermath of a bad commercial trucking accident will attest that the devastation can be complete and total.

In 2006, the FMCSA released a research paper titled “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study” (LTCCS), which had been undertaken to review the causes of trucking-related crashes and to look at the various contributing factors involved in these kinds of collisions. Up to that time, there had been existing data on commercial trucking accidents; however, the 2006 study expanded the analysis beyond the individual causes of specific crashes, instead looking at pre-crash factors based on a nationwide examination of traffic accident data.

Along with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the FMCSA conducted the LTCCS study based on three years of accident data collection. The study was the first-ever national research project tasked with determining the critical events and related factors that contribute to serious commercial trucking accidents. The goal of the study was to provide government agencies within the USDOT with up-to-date and pertinent data with which to implement effective countermeasures to reduce the occurrence and severity of commercial trucking wrecks.

As experienced trial attorneys working in the area of trucking injury law, the staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen know that the accident data collected over time could help traffic safety agencies to identify existing problems in commercial truck safety, as well as plan for future challenges when it comes to preventing trucking-related injury accidents or at least lessening the effects of these often horrendous collisions. The value of this research was made even more clear when the FMSCA pointed out, at the completion of the study, that drivers of CMVs and other large commercial trucks are 10 times more likely to be the cause of truck-involved traffic accidents than any other factors, such as road or weather conditions, and vehicle mechanical issues.

Some of the areas covered by the research in the LTCCS study included the following:

  • Commercial vehicle crashes by level of severity
  • CMV accidents by type of roadway
  • Trucking wrecks by crash type
  • Trucking accidents by body/trailer type
  • CMV accidents by pre-crash vehicle movement
  • Truck collisions by driver age
  • Truck-passenger vehicles accidents by pre-crash event
  • CMV-passenger vehicle crashes by associated factors

In general, the LTCCS study made it clear that truck driver behavior was one of the key factors associated with many CMV-related traffic accidents. The FMCSA stated following the release of the study that the research would better allow the government to analyze specific areas of trucker behavior in the hopes of improving the performance of commercial drivers in the future. The areas in which the FMCSA would delve into included the use of prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs by truckers, the reasons for excessive speed, factors affecting driver fatigue, inattention and distractions on the part of commercial truckers, as well as truck driver working environments and unfamiliarity with roadways.

Details of The Large Truck Crash Causation Study included the reasons for serious traffic accidents involving CMVs and other large trucks, specifically those vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds. Looking at a data pool of more than 100,000 commercial vehicle wrecks between April 2001 and December 2003 the LTCCS study sampled 963 crashes involving more than 1,123 large trucks and 959 non-CMV motor vehicles. More than three-quarters of those large trucks were semis pulling a single trailer; and five percent were hauling some kind of hazardous material. Of the total number of crashes, more than 70 percent involved a CMV hitting at least one other motor vehicle. Finally, more than a quarter of those 963 crashes resulted in fatalities, with injured victims totaling 1,654.

As trucking accident lawyers, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that any kind of motor vehicle accident can be a very complex event, typically involving two or more cars or trucks. The various factors that can influence a roadway wreck, especially one involving a commercial truck, can actually take place hours, days or even months prior to the crash. Contributing causes of a crash can include a range of factors, including poor driver training, limited experience on the road, faulty vehicle design or errors in manufacturing, bad road surface conditions, insufficient traffic control signals or signage, not to mention inclement weather.

Per the LTCCS study, the top four non-driver-related causes (as a percentage of the total incidents) for trucking-related roadway accidents included the following in descending order:

  • Vehicle brake system problems (29%)
  • Road surface problems (20%)
  • Tire problems (6%)
  • Shifted cargo (4%)

The top ten trucker-related causes (as a percentage of the total incidents) included the following:

  • Driving too fast for conditions (23%)
  • Unfamiliarity with local roads (22%)
  • Over-the-counter drug use (17%)
  • Inadequate surveillance (14%)
  • Driver fatigue (13%)
  • Work-related pressure from employer to perform (10%)
  • Illegal driving maneuver (9%)
  • Driver inattention (9%)
  • Distraction (external) (8%)
  • Insufficient following distance (5%)

Having worked for many years as personal injury attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen believe that there is little excuse for many of the causes of commercial trucking accidents. As such, there is no reason why victims of trucking-related traffic accidents should bear the burden of their medical expenses and subsequent rehabilitation, especially when the cause of their injuries can be traced to trucker negligence. Whether a person is hurt while driving one’s car or truck, walking or riding a bicycle, or as a passenger on a bus or other conveyance, if negligence is the cause of that person’s injuries, the responsible party should be held accountable.

Commercial trucking accident victims do have rights. We highly recommend that anyone injured in a serious commercial trucking-related roadway collision contact a skilled personal injury attorney with experience representing victims of trucking accidents. At the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, we are pleased to provide our services. Call us so that we may discuss your auto, truck or motorcycle accident case. You can reach our offices toll-free at (800) 654-1949, or send an email to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

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