Does this mean we need even more advanced safety equipment, or is there another cause behind the truck accident increase? That’s what many traffic, highway and safety agencies set out to explore.
Truck Accident Rates Steadily Increase
From 1995 to 2015, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) studies show the number of annual truck accidents involving injuries and fatalities has fluctuated, with the lowest rates in 2009. Since that time, the numbers have surprisingly turned upward.
Using DOT data, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that 3,852 people lost their lives in large truck accidents in 2015, which is 22 percent higher than in 2009; and, the number of truck occupants alone who died during an accident was 34 percent higher than in 2009.
Reasons for the Truck Accident Increase
The IIHS and DOT attribute the increased truck accident rate and related deaths to a variety of factors:
Advanced Voice and Touch-Activated Technology
Navigation devices, cell phones, MP3 players and radios are all common distractions that can prove dangerous. Navigation systems can take up to 40 seconds to program, taking the drivers’ eyes off the road in order to do so. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that a driver’s risk of accident doubles after just two seconds.
Fatigued Truck Drivers
Falling asleep at the wheel and physical impairment are common factors in truck accidents, especially in today’s rush to reach targeted destinations. Federal regulations allow truck drivers to be on the road for up to 11 hours in one stretch and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period. However, trucking companies and their drivers often violate these regulations.
Unfamiliarity with Roads
Today’s infrastructure demands constant construction and improvements, which can easily surprise and confuse unsuspecting truck drivers.
Failing truck brakes, tire problems and heavy loads can lead to traumatic truck accidents. Many trucking companies know about these potential mechanical problems but choose to ignore rather than fix them.
Busy Roads, Busy Drivers
Today’s rush-rush attitude leads to impatient drivers. Both trucks and cars speed, tailgate, swerve, make unsafe lane changes, and take risky routes. Trucks weigh 20-30 times that of a car, making it extremely difficult for them to correct a roadway mistake.
Solutions in Sight
- Changes are being made to reduce truck accident rates, but the industry as a whole doesn’t adapt to these changes quickly. Commercial trucking and freight companies have a strong political influence in Washington.
- Many states, including Georgia, have cracked down on distracted drivers by mandating strict hands-free laws. On the federal level, interstate truck drivers and bus drivers are now prohibited from using hand-held devices.
- On a technological level, trucking equipment manufacturers continue the development of advanced safety equipment. Unfortunately, the move to make changes isn’t always focused on saving lives, but rather to decrease the auto and truck manufacturers’ bottom line.
Fried Goldberg Helps Those Injured in Truck Accidents
If you’ve sustained serious injury or loss due to a negligent truck driver, please call Fried Goldberg at (404) 591-1800 to speak to our team of experienced truck accident attorneys about how we can help.