The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a statistically comprehensive report last year that detailed large truck crashes spanning 11 years. From 2000 to 2010, Florida saw an enormous fluctuation in fatal truck accidents, from a peak of 341 in 2005 to half that number - 170 truck fatalities - in 2010.
The trend reversed last year, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 214 large truck fatalities. The number appears small next to the statewide totals of more than 2,400 total accidents, but a single truck crash can cause extensive property damage and multiple injuries or deaths.
The state's truck fatality rate rose recently during an eight-vehicle crash in Northeastern Florida's Nassau County. Traffic was stopped in a U.S. 301 construction area outside Bryceville, when a tractor-trailer loaded with logs smashed into the back of the final vehicle stopped in traffic, a flatbed truck. The trailer of the flatbed was shoved forward through the truck cab. The driver inside died at the scene.
The mid-day chain reaction crash was not limited to the two large trucks. Four people were hospitalized, including a second trucker with critical injuries, as collisions continued among six additional vehicles. Four cars and two more trucks were damaged.
Every driver can identify with factors inviting distractions. Cellphones and other electronic devices are tempting diversions to overcome boredom and fatigue. Inattentive truck drivers are not uncommon, because many drivers are required to make long hauls along the same, familiar highways day after day.
Laws, like a federal truck and bus driver texting ban, attempt to minimize chances commercial operators will divert their attention from the road. Violation can result in criminal and civil penalties and may be extended to trucking companies that permit illegal driving activities.
Victims and families harmed by large truck crashes have substantial leverage in liability claims, when a trucker's negligence causes an injury or death.
Source: The Florida Times-Union, "Multi-vehicle crash deadly on Nassau's 301" Dan Scanlan, Dec. 18, 2013