Washington residents should know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for regulating the commercial trucking industry here in the U.S. Every so often, the FMCSA will conduct a study on the causes behind tow-away, injury and fatal accidents involving trucks and then create strategies for crash prevention and mitigation. The last study it made was from 2001 to 2003.

The FMCSA announced in January 2020 that it will now go ahead with a new, updated large-truck crash causation study. The need for such a study is clear in light of the changes to technology, to roadway designs and to driver behavior that the previous decade has seen. These changes are largely to blame for the 52.6% increase in fatal large-truck crashes that occurred between 2009 and 2018.

New technologies that have impacted the trucking industry include navigation systems and fleet management systems. Smartphones may have had the most negative effect, though, as drivers are all too often found calling or texting behind the wheel. Vehicle safety features like automatic emergency braking are also influencing truckers in bad ways since many overestimate the features’ capabilities and feel that they can pay less attention to the road as a result. Researchers will strive to guide the development of automated systems as part of the study.

In the meantime, drivers will be to blame for truck collisions if they are found to have been distracted behind the wheel. Drowsy, drunk and aggressive driving are just some other examples of negligent behavior. Victims of such behavior can file a claim under personal injury law, but they may want a lawyer to assist with each step. Investigators might use in-cab camera footage or electronic logs to prove the defendant’s guilt before the lawyer goes on to negotiations.