The 101 is one of the most famous highways in California. Everyone who has driven it knows that the bottleneck on our section of the highway – our very own Novato Narrows – is often slow not only because of the lane reduction but because of the increased density of lumbering 18-wheelers as well.

Large commercial trucks are difficult to maneuver and hard to bring to a sudden stop in case of emergency. When truckers aren’t skilled and cautious, the result can be violent truck crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is about to begin a new in-depth study of causes of large truck wrecks. The agency says the study will help inform lawmakers and regulators about the scope of the problem and help them form policies to improve road safety.

The FMCSA says it will delve into a number of areas in which there have been changes in the 15 years since its most recent truck-crash study, including:

  • Technology
  • Vehicle safety features
  • Driver behavior
  • Roadway design

Of course, one of the most dramatic – and dangerous – developments in recent years has been the surge in distracted driving. More than ever, drivers are paying too much attention to electronic gadgets and too little attention to roads and traffic.

For truckers, those distracting electronics can include in-dash navigation and fleet management systems.

The most recent study of the causes of tractor-trailer accidents was completed in 2003, which coincidentally marked the beginning of a six-year decrease in truck crash fatalities that bottomed out in 2009 with 2,893 people killed. Since then, however, fatalities have soared 52 percent – all the way up to 4,415 just two years ago.

This study will help FMCSA identify factors that are contributing to the growth in fatal large truck crashes,” the agency said in a statement.

Far too often, big rig wrecks involve factors such as:

  • Distractions
  • Fatigue
  • Impairment
  • Excess speed

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a large truck crash, contact a Novato attorney experienced in both personal injury and wrongful death litigation.