How many people die in semi-truck crashes?

West Virginia and Kanawha County both saw a significant jump in the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks in 2017.

Anyone in West Virginia who has driven along next to a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle while riding in a standard passenger vehicle has likely realized just how vulnerable they might be if involved in a crash with these big rigs. The sheer size alone of these vehicles can put others at a disadvantage when accidents happen.

Despite numerous laws and regulations in place designed to keep people safe by ensuring truckers operate their vehicles safely, accidents involving large trucks continue to plague West Virginia.

2017 fatalities rise over 2016

Sadly, last year's traffic fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show just how real the ongoing risk of death in a large truck crash continues to be.

Statewide, 52 people died in wrecks involving large commercial trucks, up from 27 the prior year and 22 the year before. In 2014 and 2013, 30 and 46 such deaths were recorded.

Kanawha County was the site of seven of last year's truck accident deaths in West Virginia, up from only one in 2016 and two in 2015 and 2014. In 2013, the county lost six lives in these crashes.

Recent accidents highlight the ongoing problem

Even in the past few months, more news stories have provided sad details of tragic accidents involving tractor-trailers on West Virginia roads and highways.

This summer, WTAP reported on how one man was killed in Jackson County when a semi-truck veered off the road and hit him as he sat in his parked vehicle on the side of the road.

In the following month, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported on a crash along Interstate 77 near Camp Creek in which another trucker veered off the road for some unknown reason. This trucker hit two parked vehicles and three people who were outside of those vehicles. Two of the people died from their injuries.

Efforts to improve safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has in the last couple of years updated its Hours of Service rule which governs the number of hours a trucker may work in a day or a week. The goal of this rule is to reduce fatigue among commercial drivers, a known problem and contributor to some crashes.

Also, the FMCSA is creating what is called the drug and alcohol clearinghouse. This is a database connected to a program designed to prevent impaired driving among commercial drivers.

When these preventive measures are not enough, and accidents do happen, people in West Virginia should contact an attorney promptly. This will give them access to help in seeking compensation for their losses or injuries.