There are about 1,200 trucking crashes per day in the US. Comparatively, truck drivers are much more likely to be involved in a car crash than the average driver. Why is this? Are truck drivers simply more prone to crashes? To find out, we need to ask who is responsible for trucking accidents.
Most truckers will claim that passenger vehicles cause about 80% of trucking accidents. That’s only a partial truth. About 40% all trucking crashes only involve one vehicle, the truck. Of the remaining half, both government reports and internal studies by trucking lobbyists consistently find that passenger vehicles cause about 80% of two-vehicle crashes.
Keep in mind, however, that cars are responsible for 80% of multi-vehicle crashes, which are only half of all trucking crashes. The other half of truck crashes only involve the trucker. Put another way, about 50% of all truck crashes are caused by a four-wheel vehicle.
As stated previously, single-vehicle crashes make up about 40% of all trucking crashes. There are many contributing factors to these crashes, but negligent hiring and driver inexperience could be two of the top causes.
For years, the trucking lobby has pushed for relaxed entry requirements to earn a commercial driver’s license, the type of license needed to drive a large truck. Over time, the classroom hours required to earn a permit have decreased, as have the number of behind-the-wheel hours needed to take the driver’s test.
In 2020, new regulations went into effect that eliminated most of the requirements needed to earn a commercial driver’s license. Now, would-be truck drivers can take their driver’s test without any classroom hours and with just 20 hours of behind-the-wheel experience. The problem, of course, is that 20 hours isn’t enough time for a driver to become comfortable carrying a 40,000lb tractor-trailer in highway traffic. Even the driver’s test won’t prepare them for that.
That’s to say nothing of improper driving technique. Driving downhill in a large truck is extremely dangerous. If a truck driver goes slightly too fast, they might find themselves at the end of a run-away truck ramp, endangering everyone else on the road in the process. When truck drivers are allowed to carry full loads with minimal training, it puts everyone around them in danger.
Negligent maintenance is another significant cause of trucking and truck-related crashes. Most truck drivers travel around 45,000 miles per year with some going as far as 150,000 miles. More miles traveled means more parts wearing down.
If a truck driver’s carrier does not provide regular maintenance, oil changes, inspections, and tire rotations, it could spell disaster on the road. Some organizations suggest that negligent maintenance, especially bursting truck tires, could cause as many as 200,000 truck-related accidents per year.
Another top cause might be demanding fleet controllers. Truckers keep tight schedules. If a shipment is delayed by traffic or extreme weather, controllers may ask that the truck driver puts in overtime, beyond their hours of service limits.
Normally, truck drivers can operate their vehicles for 11 hours at a time or 14 hours in a 24-hour period. When they’re pushed beyond those limits, to the point of physical fatigue, they’re extremely likely to cause a car crash. At present, 1-in-8 (12%) of all trucking crashes are caused by a truck driver struggling to stay awake.
More terrifying is if the truck driver is asked to push through a storm. In the summer, hurricane winds and mid-western storms can knock a truck on its side, potentially endangering both the driver and anyone driving alongside them. In the winter, icy conditions can cause a truck to spinout or even jackknife across multiple lanes.
Truck Injury Attorneys
Whatever the cause, truck crashes typically cause devastating damage to those around them. If you were hurt in a truck crash, you need an attorney with experience fighting the trucking companies and their insurance.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a trucking accident, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Riverdale auto accident attorney from Law Offices of Falanga & Chalker to evaluate your case, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (470) 450-1164.