Since 1975, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Highway Loss Data Institute or IIHS-HLDI, has been keeping track of truck fatalities. 2009 proved to have the lowest number of deaths in large truck crashes since they began recording them. From 2009 to 2017, depending on which category of victims you were tracking, fatalities involved with truck crashes raised between 30% and 52%, with overall deadly crashes increasing by 40%. This is startling when you consider that nationwide, due to safety campaigns and laws, the national average for all vehicle fatal crashes lowered by 1.8% for the same time period. Why, then, have truck crashes risen so much?
Reason for Increase in Fatal Truck Wrecks
While technology has advanced in other industries, little has changed in shipping across the country. Trucking is still the easiest, most cost-effective means of transporting goods, equipment and construction materials over thousands of miles; so the need for trucking only increases with the creation of new products, services and an improving economy.
Shortage of Drivers As time goes on, the demand for drivers increases while a whole generation of baby-boomer drivers is growing older and retiring. Generation X, the next group of truck drivers averaging 40-55 years old, is a much smaller generation which gravitates more toward technology than driving, though they comprise the majority of truck drivers employed in the US today. The following larger generation of millennials is less inclined to choose driving as their career, though companies are working hard to incentivize younger drivers to join up.
Inexperienced Truck Drivers Partially caused by the shortage of drivers, companies have begun to turn to younger drivers who can get a CDL certification in only 22 days. This may give a new truck driver time to learn some basic maneuvers, but the hard lessons in judgement – of not relying on GPS, of judging how long it takes for a truck they cut off to stop – are tough lessons to learn on the road. Mistakes are made, and accidents happen more frequently when companies are forced to hire less experienced drivers.
Driver Fatigue Stricter laws have been placed to prevent this very problem, but drivers object to being limited to 11 stretches, causing them to lose money if they follow the letter of the law. Trucking companies have developed various practices that skirt these regulations, allowing their drivers to work much longer than the law permits. Drowsy driving is a problem for all age drivers.
Other factors It’s possible that these additional factors have increased partially as side effects of having young or inexperienced drivers, as well as drivers who are careless due to fatigue:
- Distracted driving smartphones and other mobile devices
If you are involved in an accident with a truck, know that existing regulations make it easier to determine liability for damages. Federal law has determined that companies with a trucking permit are responsible for their fleet trucks that are involved in an accident and have the company name displayed on the vehicle, regardless of who is the owner or lessee of the vehicle is. The Maison Law Firm understands the laws governing truck accident liability. Victims of truck accidents may be entitled to compensation for damages and should contact us as soon after the accident as possible.