Everyone who has driven on the interstate highways crisscrossing Montgomery County knows that the biggest, most dangerous vehicles rolling on those roads are the mammoth 18-wheelers. Tractor-trailers are slow to bring to a stop and difficult to maneuver – especially in critical situations that can arise without warning.

The sheer size of commercial trucks requires truckers to be constantly alert and cautious. When truck drivers are distracted, fatigued, speeding, impaired or impatient, the result can be violent truck crashes, serious injuries and fatalities.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced a new study of the causes of large truck crashes, research the federal agency says that will provide data for regulators, lawmakers and law enforcement to use to make our roads safer for everyone.

The new study will be the first of its kind in more than 15 years. The previous truck crash study was conducted from 2001 to 2003, before iPhones, in-cab fleet management systems, Google Maps and other technological innovations that come with a mix of positive and negative attributes.

“In the more than 15 years since the original study, many changes in technology, vehicle safety, driver behavior and roadway design have occurred that affect how a driver performs,” the FMCSA said in a statement.

The agency says one of the changes in behind-the-wheel behavior that it plans to study is distracted driving —  a problem that continues to get worse in Maryland and across the nation.

When the previous truck crash study ended in 2013, it marked the beginning of a six-year steady decrease in fatal wrecks involving commercial trucks. There were 2,893 fatal crashes in 2009, but that figure has soared 52 percent since, all the way to 4,415 in 2018.

One of the goals of the new study is to understand the reasons behind the surge and help lawmakers, tech companies, road designers and others shape policy and products that will reverse the trend.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a crash with a large commercial truck, contact a Silver Spring attorney experienced in personal injury and wrongful death litigation.