Data released by Florida Dept. of Highway Safety shows injuries and fatalities
from trucking accidents skew 3X higher than national average
For Immediate Release – 10/14/13 (WEST PALM BEACH, FL) – For many in South Florida, Interstate 95 is a busy, sprawling
pipeline for work-week commuters and other motorists. It's also the
lifeline for enormous, 10,000-pound plus commercial freight liners and
trailers, and the rest of us need to share the road. But just how safe
is this space-sharing arrangement for Florida drivers?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while only about
2% of all commercial vehicle accidents in the U.S. result in a fatality,
nearly 20% result in a fatality, incapacity, or serious injury. Of all
highway and surface street trucking accidents, about 75% result in little
or no injury, thanks at least in part to "underride guards",
and the fact that many accidents are low-speed collisions in which the
truck strikes another vehicle.
Sadly, however, the risk of a fatality occurring as a result of a commercial
vehicle collision nationwide more than doubles when a passenger vehicle
strikes the tractor or trailer from the rear (Source:
In Florida, however, those numbers are far more alarming. According to
the Traffic Crash Statistics Report for 2010, commissioned by the Florida
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, while fatalities in overall
state-wide vehicle accidents are down from the year before by 4.6%, fatalities
resulting from a trucking accident skew higher than the national average
at 2.75%, while 59% of accidents involving a truck and trailer resulted
in bodily injury or fatality (Source: http://bit.ly/1geYPaH - page 31).
*Data compiled from a 2006 FMCSA report; source link in this document
**Data compiled from a 2010 FLHSMV report; source link in this document
Large, commercial vehicle accidents can be terrifying. An August 2013 Palm
Beach County-area crash involving a tractor trailer and a Palm Tran bus
in which 11 passengers were injured suggests sharing the road with these
behemoth machines isn't as safe as we might think (Source:
And the truck drivers themselves can be dangerous and unpredictable. There
have been at least two cases in the last two weeks in which a truck driver
has struck, hit, injured, or killed motorists who were pulled over on
the side of an interstate, and then fled the scene.
These massive collisions occur all over the U.S. A few weeks ago, two colliding
tractor-trailers lead to a 41-car pileup in Virginia (Source:
One group of researchers has been quietly releasing national data spanning
the last two decades on this very subject of whether commercial trucking
vehicle accidents are more or less likely to result in injury, incapacity,
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in a study
appropriated by the Department of Transportation, an estimated 400,000
trucks are involved in motor vehicle accidents each year. That compares
to figures released in an earlier 2006 study by the same researchers that
shows only about 120,000 were recorded between April 2001 and December
The FMCSA was organized by the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act in
1999 to study and determine the effects, and causes, of commercial motor
vehicle accidents in the U.S.
Underride guards (steel support bars affixed to the back of a tractor
trailer) can help reduce the risk of injury to drivers of passenger vehicles
when the passenger vehicle rear-ends the tractor trailer squarely (at
no angle), so that the force is distributed across the width of the passenger
vehicle's front chassis.
But for eight of the biggest tractor trailer manufacturers for the American
market, which account for more than 80% of the trucks on our roads, a
recent study found that when a passenger vehicle strikes the guard on
any other angle other than head-on (for example, if a driver were to swerve
and hit the corner of the trailer's guard just before impact), even
at a low rate of speed (35 MPH), all but one failed safety crash tests
designed to ensure the passengers would be unharmed. Here is a video from
the authors of that IIHS study. (
VerdictSearch, a research firm that publishes the annual Top Florida Verdicts
and Settlements, released its 2012 report this summer. In it, one of Craig
Goldenfarb's motor vehicle accident cases is listed as the 3rd largest
settlement for 2012.
Seven out of eight of the top motor vehicle accident cases settled and
documented in Top Florida Verdicts 2012, including Mr. Goldenfarb's
case, involved a commercial trucking company as the defendant.
Mr. Goldenfarb's case involved Stuart Jay Mackinnon, a man traveling
to work on Indiantown Road, who was suddenly cut-off by a large semi-tractor
driver. The collision caused Mr. Mackinnon to undergo multiple surgeries,
and Mr. Goldenfarb and his team worked diligently to secure a $2,010,000
"Tractor trailer accidents are particularly devastating not just because
the mass of the vehicle is often five times that of a passenger vehicle,
or more", Mr. Goldenfarb says of interstate trucking dangers, "but
these days we have to factor unpredictable, variable elements that include
time of day, speed, and distracted, or even intoxicated, truck drivers.
The dangers have been brought to light recently by the sad case of
Vincent Matthews and Mariah King, both victims of a deadly hit-and-run
collision involving a truck driver and his vehicle in Port St. Lucie."
Mr. Goldenfarb's case analysis on this incident is here.
Mr. Goldenfarb points to data compiled and released by FMCSA for large
trucking accidents between 1996 and 2001 that shows 2.8% of accidents
that occurred in Michigan during that time were attributed to truck drivers
under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Source:
What can drivers do to protect themselves when sharing the road with large
1. Stay Attentive: being aware of your surroundings while on I-95 is critical to avoiding
any collision. Avoid a trucker's "blind spots" on either
side of the rear trailer. If at all possible, don't pass a truck on
its passenger side, and avoid "lingering" when passing.
2. Keep Clear: respecting the tractor trailer's space is important. Heed the "stay
back 50 feet" warnings. In severe rain, fog, or wind, pay special
attention and watch out for slow or lane-changing trailers.
3. Avoid A Rear-Ender: Often, commercial vehicle accidents involve the driver of a tractor trailer
rear-ending a passenger vehicle. In slow or stopped traffic, and on busy
highways or streets, try to avoid being the vehicle directly in front
of a large semi. Stay in the left lane to allow yourself room to swerve
out of the path of danger in an emergency.
4. Pull Off As Far As Possible: If you must pull over, pull as far as possible from the road on the whichever
shoulder of the interstate is wider. Engage your emergency lights, even
during daylight hours. Be careful if you have to be on the side of the
vehicle that is closest to the road - ideally, you will have pulled off
on the opposite side.
The Law Offices of Craig Goldenfarb, P.A. is a West Palm Beach personal
injury firm specializing in personal injury, nursing home abuse, heart
attacks in public places (AED law), and medical and legal malpractice.
Interview Mr. Goldenfarb about the Matthews/King case, or on the general
dangers of sharing the road with truck drivers on Interstate I-95.
Media Contact and Inquiries: Tom Copeland, Marketing Director for The Law Offices of Craig Goldenfarb,
P.A., (561) 727-3140 or
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