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Unsafe speeds may be behind rise in large truck crash deaths

California saw the second highest number (after Texas) of large truck crash fatalities in 2017. In fact, all but six states saw an increase in these fatalities from 2009 to 2017, according to federal data. This is despite the fact that the same eight-year period experienced a decrease in miles driven by commercial truckers. The highway safety non-profit Road Safe America has analyzed this data and come to several conclusions.

First, it noticed that most of the states with the highest percentage increase and the highest number of fatalities in 2017 have speed limits of 70 mph or more for commercial truckers. These speeds are unsafe for any vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds or more, considering their longer stopping distance.

For this reason, Road Safe America recommends the use of speed limiters. Truck fleet owners are encouraged to set these at 65 mph. Speed limiters have been built into America's big rigs since the 1990s, and there was even a proposal to mandate the use of these devices back in 2016. That proposal, made jointly by NHTSA and the FMCSA, never gained traction. Still, a national survey showed that 80 percent supported such a mandate.

In addition, the non-profit pushes for automatic emergency braking. This can help prevent collisions with stationary or slow-moving objects, even applying the brakes for drivers who don't react quickly enough.

Of course, truckers can still be negligent even with such vehicle safety technology. Those who incur truck accident injuries through little or no fault of their own may be able to file an injury claim against the trucker's employer, but they might want to consult with a lawyer first. Under this state's comparative negligence rule, plaintiffs can only sue for a certain amount based on the defendant's degree of fault. The lawyer might strive for the maximum settlement possible or litigate.

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