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Large Trucks Figure Prominently in Deadly Accidents

Motorists may look a bit more warily at the large trucks sharing Florida's highways, given the findings of recent research. Only three percent of the vehicles registered in the United States are large trucks, but crashes involving these trucks resulted in 10 percent of the traffic deaths in 2009, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A pair of civil engineers are now studying accident statistics in more depth to follow up on the FMCSA research. Their analysis has found that in almost three quarters of the truck accidents, the truck drivers were at least in part to blame. The most frequent cause was inattention; drivers failed to focus adequately on the driving task at hand when passing another vehicle, changing lanes or performing other routine driving maneuvers.

The other most common driver behaviors that led to accidents were speeding, making improper lane changes, tailgating, and not yielding right of way. The engineers noted that driving is a complex activity, with many processes happening simultaneously, so that an error in attention or judgment could easily lead to disaster.

Environmental factors beyond the drivers' control, like rain or livestock on the road, contributed to 13 percent of the truck accidents. Road conditions were a factor in 7.8 percent of the accidents, and mechanical failure was involved in 6.1 percent.

Even in good weather on Florida roads, motorists should watch out. Almost 78 percent of the accidents the researchers studied took place on clear roads in daylight. The time period with the most accidents was early afternoon, between noon and 3:00 p.m.

High speed limits were in force in the majority of the truck accident sites. Whether speed limit restrictions could help reduce accidents is yet to be known, but the researchers suggest that legislation could make a difference. Their research is also aimed at developing educational tools for truckers and other motorists that could enhance the safety of all on the roads.

Floridians who have suffered injury or lost a loved one in a crash involving a large truck should turn to a personal injury attorney for help in receiving compensation. An attorney can help recover the costs of medical treatment, loss of wages, and pain and suffering for injured persons.

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