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Rise in truck crash deaths blamed on unpopular federal rule

Commercial truckers in Missouri may be aware that the number of fatal crashes involving those in their industry is rising. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a 9 percent increase in 2017 with a total of 4,761 people killed. Of these, about 1,300 were truckers themselves.

Some say that more truckers are trying to work around an unpopular rule that requires them to take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. Truckers may speed in their effort to make deadlines or become fatigued as a result of that break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is reviewing 5,200 comments proposing changes to its hours-of-service rules, and the break rule has received the most feedback.

Other factors are likely involved in the trend. Many truckers have developed bad habits such as texting while driving or distracting themselves in other ways behind the wheel. The use of driver-assist features may be rendering some truckers complacent. Another is the lack of full-service truck stops. Drivers of passenger vehicles can be distracted or negligent and cause accidents, too.

To address the issue of negligence among their employees, some fleet owners are turning to driver analytics software. This can monitor drivers' speed, ensure seat belt use and keep track of any instances of harsh braking or accelerating. Ultimately, it serves as a coaching tool for employees.

Speeding, distracted driving and drowsy driving are just a few forms of negligence. If any of these is behind a commercial vehicle accident, victims who are not to blame for the accident may be eligible for compensation. This means filing a claim against the guilty party's trucking company. The company will have its own legal team, so victims may want to retain a lawyer. If a fair settlement cannot be negotiated, the lawyer might prepare the case for court.

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