An accident on the highway is a scary and life-altering experience for any of us and even more so when a truck is involved. Because of their massive size and weight, cars don't stand a chance when up against a truck in an accident. According to the IIHSHLDI (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; Highway Loss Data Institute), approximately 4,000 fatalities occur each year nationwide in truck-related crashes.
In the past decade, the United States has seen an increase of 20 percent in the occurrence of truck-related accidents, and trucking fatalities are at their highest level in 29 years. Overall, the traffic fatality rate has shown a decrease, but fatalities involving trucks have increased.
Truck driver error
A 33-month long Truck Causation Study of 12,000 truck crashes found that many of these accidents and fatalities were the result of overworked and tired truck drivers. With pressure to meet tight deadlines and work unrealistic schedules, drivers are working long hours without adequate rest. Federal regulations meant to mandate the hours of rest and limit the number of hours a driver spends on the road are often unfollowed, leading to adverse physical conditions for drivers.
Drivers in a hurry to meet a deadline also tend to speed, another contributing factor in truck-related crashes.
In addition to drivers driving tired, the research shows four other areas where drivers were at fault:
- Non-performance: the driver fell asleep at the wheel or suffered an impairing medical condition.
- Recognition: the driver was distracted.
- Decision: the driver was either speeding or making other poor driving choices.
- Performance: the driver panicked or exercised poor control.
Other components in the crashes they studied included weather conditions, driver experience, road conditions, equipment failure and traffic congestion.
Our highways have seen an increase in trucks on the road as goods are at an all-time demand. Since truck drivers are often at fault in a truck-related motor vehicle crash, use caution and practice safe driving habits when sharing the roads with commercial haulers.