Accidents involving large trucks are incredibly dangerous and often lead to fatalities. Compared to accidents that involve smaller vehicles, accidents involving large commercial trucks involve greater amounts of force, which is especially dangerous for the driver of the smaller vehicle. One factor that often leads to truck accidents is drowsy driving. Driving drowsy is incredibly dangerous, and may be contributing to the increase in accidents involving large trucks. With a dangerous trend of drowsy driving and an increase in collisions involving large trucks, it is imperative that you find ways to reduce your risk of being involved in such an accident.

Our Kansas City truck accident attorney at the Law Office of Kevin J. McManus helps accident victims recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Through years of experience handling accident claims, our legal team has extensive knowledge and resources that can benefit you as you seek compensation for damages caused by a truck accident.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident and suffered personal injury or death, call our office today at (816) 203-0143 or through our website email or chat for a free, confidential consultation. We’re here to help, and on your side.

Fatal Truck Accidents Increasing in Kansas City Area & Nationwide

An article in the Kansas City Star reported that fatal crashes involving semis, eighteen-wheelers, and other large trucks are on the rise, despite the fact that overall traffic fatalities in the U.S. declined for the first time in three years.  

Fatal Truck Accidents Increasing in Kansas City Area & Nationwide

This report was based on the release of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  In 2017, 4,761 people were killed in truck collisions (vehicles weighing more 10,000 pounds) nationwide. This represented a 9 percent increase from the 2016 number and 41 percent increase from 2009.  This increase was alarming to highway safety advocates because the overall number of fatalities in all traffic collisions dropped 1.8 percent in 2017, to 37,133 lives lost.

NHTSA’s detailed analysis showed a nearly 6 percent increase in lethal wrecks involving tractor-trailer combinations and a nearly 19 percent increase in single-unit straight trucks in 2017.

How to Reduce Truck Crashes on Missouri & Kansas Highways

Also according to the Kansas City Star, a public policy group called Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety has demanded that regulators take two actions to stop the rising number of fatalities from truck crashes. 

  1. First, they want regulators to reject trucking industry efforts to relax present safety standards.  
  2. Second, they seek to implement new safety technology, including automatic emergency braking on all trucks.

Many new passenger cars already have automatic braking technology, and automakers have voluntarily agreed to include this safety mechanism in all passenger cars by 2022. However, for large trucks, there are no minimum standards set by the government and no agreement by truck makers to have such equipment installed.

Given the continued rise in fatal trucking accidents, it is imperative that our elected officials and regulators do everything possible to ensure safety on our roads. This includes maintaining current safety regulations and implementing new technologies, such as automatic braking and speed-limiting devices on all commercial trucks.

Collision Warning Systems May Help Prevent Kansas City Truck Crashes

The National Transportation Safety Board has advocated for the federal regulators to mandate collision warning systems on large trucks since the 1990s, and automatic emergency braking since it became available roughly ten years ago. Unfortunately, as detailed in an investigative report published by The Star found that regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have largely ignored the NTSB.  NHTSA continues to study the issue, even though the European Union has required automatic emergency braking on all large trucks for the last three years.

Another regulation that has not been approved is a requirement for drivers of large commercial trucks to activate the speed-limiting equipment that has been installed on all semi-trucks.  Such a rule has not been implemented despite the fact that speed is a contributing factor to the severity of most truck wrecks.

Instead of tightening these regulations due to the increasing fatalities, trucking industry groups have been focused on eliminating current regulations aimed at safety, including the number of hours truckers can be on the road and the mandate for electronic devices that log trucking hours.  

From our experience representing accident victims and their families in Kansas City and throughout Kansas and Missouri, this is the wrong approach.  The effectiveness of this technology to save lives has been proven, and it should be implemented while also maintaining current safety regulations.

Statistics on Drowsy Driving in Kansas City

It is extremely dangerous for any driver to drive while tired or sleepy.  It is, however, more dangerous for truck drivers and drivers of heavy-duty vehicles because crashes involving these vehicles cause much more damage and have a higher chance of being fatal. Drivers of large commercial trucks and vehicles must take extra precaution to stay awake and alert while driving or they can be held responsible for causing a destructive and potentially deadly truck accident or crash. A truck driver who is drowsy or who falls asleep will bear the liability and legal repercussions of an accident that can cause serious injuries or even death.

A research study known as the Large Truck Crash Causation Study carried out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that over 200 deaths and 1,654 serious injuries have resulted from more than 12,000 accidents involving commercial trucks over a period of about three years. Over 70% of these accidents resulted from the collision of large commercial trucks with one or more other vehicles and about 13% of them were as a result of drowsy driving.

Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road in service of their employers or businesses.  As a result, the federal government has instituted certain regulations to put a limit on the length of time they can spend on the road each day. These regulations are known as the “Hours of Service” rules. Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always follow these rules, and in doing so, they put both their lives and those of other road users at risk. This failure to adhere to regulations stems from the fact that the trucking industry is very competitive and the goods in transit must be delivered within strict time standards.

Some repercussions of driving while drowsy or tired include:

  • Delays in responding to hazards due to slower reflex responses
  • Memory loss and reduced focus on driving
  • Less directional control and irrational driving from mood swings
  • Poor judgment on speed, brake application and dealing with other vehicles, obstacles and turns
  • Distraction and loss of attention on road and other road users

When a driver violates the Hour of Service rules and causes an accident with other drivers, he or she has to face the legal consequences of any damage, injury or death that may result. If the employing company is found to be responsible for the accident by pushing its drivers to work beyond permissible limits, the company also can be found liable for any damage that might result.

Our Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you or a family member has been involved in a truck accident in Kansas City, you may be struggling with growing medical bills and lost income.  Our Kansas City truck accident attorney has helped other people reach a fair settlement for their damages, and he’s ready to help you too.  Please know that you are not alone, and we are here to help.

Our legal team is ready to handle the legal issues so you can focus on what matters most – getting better and back to your life.  Call us today at (816) 203-0143 or contact us through our website email or chat for a free, confidential consultation.  You can also instantly download our free book right now, Crash Course: 9 Mistakes to Avoid Wrecking Your Injury Claim in Kansas and Missouri.  We’re here for you, and on your side!

Kevin J. McManus
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Kevin McManus is an accident injury lawyer and long-term disability attorney in Kansas City, MO.
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