Commercial Vehicles and the Impact on Road Safety
Commercial vehicles have been vital during the pandemic. Without large semi-trucks, it would be difficult for manufacturers and other businesses to deliver goods efficiently. The great demand to get products and other goods delivered quickly and on time means that truck drivers have more on-the-job pressures than ever before. Despite Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety regulations and guidelines, deadly truck accidents are still a problem on U.S. roadways. Here are some statistics you need to know.
Why Semi-Trucks Cause Road Dangers
Most deaths that occur in large truck accidents are passenger vehicle occupants. Traveling in smaller vehicles make occupants more vulnerable to a life-threatening injury since a truck can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. Since trucks have greater ground clearance, it’s easy for smaller vehicles to roll underneath and get crushed — and the result is often fatal or life-threatening. The following are some common facts that contribute to the dangers of commercial vehicles on the road:
Loaded tractor-trailers can take up to 40 percent farther distance to stop than cars.
Blind Spots are a common problem for truckers since commercial vehicles can be up to 53 feet long with a single trailer. This can mean blind spots on all sides of the truck but especially to the right.
Higher Center of Gravity
In addition to more weight and height, a semi-truck’s higher center of gravity can cause:
- Rollover accidents: When any large truck tips over onto its side or roof.
- Jackknife accidents: These types of accidents are specific to semi-trucks and happens when the truck lands on its side and the cab and trailer fold into each other at an acute angle.
Even though you may think that moving slower on the road would be less of a hazard, the large size and heavy weight of a truck make it harder for them to gain momentum and speed to keep up with traffic. This can pose a safety problem when trucks are merging onto highways. If the driver doesn’t have enough room or misjudges the speed versus the oncoming cars, it could cause an oncoming vehicle to rear-end the truck.
Truck Accidents By the Numbers
According to the latest statistics reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), here are some stats related to commercial vehicle crashes:
- 4,119 people died in large truck crashes in 2019
- 16% of the deaths were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles
- 15% of the deaths were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists
- The number of fatalities from truck crashes was 31% higher in 2019 than in 2009
- The number of truck occupants who died was 51% higher in 2009
How Truck Driver Negligence Contributes to Accidents
The FMCSA has laws and regulations for truckers, such as how long they can be driving on the road, how many rest breaks they should take, and sleep requirements. Since there is high pressure to deliver goods quickly, the following can be the catalyst for a severe accident:
Driving While Fatigued
When drivers get too little sleep or drive more hours than they should, they can put themselves and other motorists in danger. Not only can their reaction time be impaired when having to make a sudden maneuver to avoid an accident, but they can also fall asleep at the wheel.
Distracted driving can range from texting and talking on the phone to eating food and drinking beverages while operating a vehicle. Distracted driving is a dangerous driving habit that all truck drivers and motorists should refrain from.
Alcohol or Drug Use
A 2013 article published by Reuters explained how the challenges and stresses truck drivers face often lead to the use of stimulants and other drugs when they are out on the road. In one study, half of the driver participants admitted to drinking and driving, and 30 percent admitted to the use of amphetamines.
When time is of the essence to get goods delivered quickly, the tight deadlines may force drivers to speed which can cause them to lose control of their vehicle.
Lack of Training
Truck drivers must go through training and have hours of driving practice before getting their commercial driver’s license (CDL). However, some trucking companies ignore when a driver may not be quite ready. Handling a semi-truck and other commercial vehicles takes skill and experience.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Before drivers can start their route, they are required to do a pre-trip inspection to ensure all parts are in good working order. Trucks should go through timely inspections and maintenance routines by professional mechanics as well.
Improper Loading of Cargo
When loading a truck, the weight, size, width, and height limits must be considered. Trucks that are carrying hazardous materials have stricter guidelines on how they should be loaded and handled. When trucks are improperly loaded, it can make the truck weight too heavy, leading to a jackknife or rollover accident.
Injured in a Truck Accident? We Are Here For You.
Colliding with a semi-truck or large commercial vehicle can most likely leave victims with catastrophic injuries or, worse, death. From traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord injuries and fractures, sustaining any type of injury is a scary and stressful event. If you or a loved one has been injured in a semi-truck crash, we are here to help you seek justice and recover the compensation you deserve. When another’s negligence causes your injuries, we are here to hold them accountable for their careless actions. Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC is here to support you when going through a difficult time.
Learn how we may assist you by calling (502) 242-8872 today.