Large tractor-trailers are necessary for transporting consumer products all over the country, but it can be unnerving to share the road with them. You probably understand just how big these trucks seem when driving right next to one. That bit of fear you feel when one is nearby is not unfounded, either. Being involved in a trucking accident can easily be fatal.
It is also difficult -- if not impossible -- to totally avoid large trucks in West Virginia. Trucks transport around 70% of America's freight, which means there are plenty of these vehicles on the road at almost every point of the day. However, you are most likely to encounter a fatal trucking accident on weekday afternoons.
Drivers are dying
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- the NHTSA -- show that there were approximately 11,000 fatal trucking accidents between 2015 and 2017. In total, 12,230 people died. The fatality rate actually got worse over that period of time, too, rising 5.8% from 2016 to 2017.
Drivers of passenger vehicles account for most of those deaths. Smaller vehicles just do not stand a chance against large tractor-trailers. Large trucks weigh as much as 30 times more than the average vehicle and also have much higher ground clearance. That higher ground clearance means that cars can easily slide underneath the truck, usually with devastating results.
Who is responsible?
Truck drivers are supposed to be specially trained to handle these large vehicles, but that does not mean they are all doing a great job. A truck driver failing to yield the right-of-way is the most common cause of fatal truck accidents. Improper lane usage, erratic operation, and failure to obey traffic signals and signs are just a few other examples of reckless truck driver behavior that can lead to deadly accidents.
Not all truck drivers have the best driving record, either. Around 21% of truck drivers in fatal crashes from 2015 to 2017 had one or more speeding conviction on their record. And in 2017's fatal trucking accidents, 20% of light truck drivers and 3% of heavy truck drivers had blood alcohol concentrations higher than .08%.
Weekdays are more dangerous
The majority of truck accident fatalities happen during the week, during the middle of the day. Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most dangerous when it comes to truck accidents, as this is when most fatal truck accidents occur. According to the NHTSA, fatal wrecks peak at around 1 p.m.
Whether your loved one was on a major road during the middle of the day or in a less-traveled area early in the morning, he or she did not deserve to die in a trucking accident. Now your family must deal with unexpected funeral expenses and more on top of the already difficult grieving process. But there is help out there. You should be sure to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney about your options for filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your loved one.