Truck and bus injury and fatality accidents have been on the rise in recent years.
U.S. highways had started looking a little safer at the turn of the century. Large truck and bus accidents dropped an impressive 34 percent between 2002 and 2009. The positive trend was unfortunately short lived and began reversing in 2009. By 2017 they had increased a dismal 40 percent.
There were 4,136 fatalities in truck-related crashes in 2018. Only 16 percent of those deaths were truck drivers. The majority of deaths – 67 percent – were occupants in passenger vehicles.
The discrepancy in the rate of fatalities is primarily due to the weight of trucks compared to the average passenger vehicles. Commercial truck involved in auto accidents often weigh 20 to 30 times more than the passenger vehicle in the crash.
The weight and size of trucks also makes it harder for them to avoid getting into accidents. Trucks need a lot more room to stop, usually about 20 to 40 percent more roadway than a car would need to slow down to a complete stop.
Where and When Trucking Deaths Occur
More than half of 2018’s large truck accident deaths – 52 percent – occurred on major roadways. Only 33 percent of deaths were the result of accidents on interstates and freeways.
The most dangerous time of day for truck accidents is between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., with 17 percent of truck accident deaths occurring in that time frame. The safest is 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., with only 8 percent.
Weekends had the highest rate of truck accident fatalities in 2018. Friday through Sunday combined accounted for 47 percent of commercial truck accidents deaths. Sunday and Friday each claimed 15 percent and Saturday was the most dangerous day of the week with 17 percent of truck accident fatalities.
What Makes Trucking So Dangerous and Commercial Drivers Prone to Crash?
No truck driver wants to get into an accident, but there are aspects of the trucking industry that make drivers more prone to accidents.
Federal regulations impose strict guidelines on the number of hours truckers are allowed to drive in order to keep fatigued drivers off the nation’s roads. Truck drivers technically shouldn’t drive for more than 11 hours at a time. However, drivers are under deadline pressure from their employers and the customers they serve. There are significant monetary incentives to break those rules.
Truckers are also just as vulnerable to distraction as the average passenger car or SUV driver on the road. Speeding was the most frequent driver mistake cited in truck accident reports; distractions and inattention was second; impairment, which includers things like fatigue and illness, was third.
Alcohol actually isn’t as big of a problem for the trucking industry as it is for everyday commuters. In 1982, about 17 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents had a BAC of .08 or above. In 2018, it was down to just three percent compared to 29 percent for passenger vehicle drivers.
Safety Challenges Facing American Truckers
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is always lobbying to make the roads and trucking industry safer for both truck and passenger vehicle drivers.
One of the ways the ATA wants to improve safety is by accelerating the adoption of autonomous vehicle technology. The group’s chief executive, Chris Spear, isn’t overly concerned about truckers losing jobs to robots. He cites the aviation industry where some planes can take off, fly and land autonomously, but few people recommend taking pilots out of the equation.
He believes driver-assist technologies, especially ones that let vehicles on the road speak to one another through radio signals, have the potential to save a lot of lives. He also believes autonomous driving technology can allow truckers to operate more than 11 hours per shift safely.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle?
If you’ve been injured or a loved one has been killed in a truck accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney. The team at the Law Office of Johnny Phillips understands how severe and traumatizing truck accident injuries and deaths can be. These injuries often require long hospital stays and rehabilitation periods that can keep people out of work for weeks, months or even years. Our team can fight for the compensation you need to recover and get your life back to normal.
Give our office a call at 833.564.6693 to schedule a free consultation.