Millions of large trucks and tractor-trailers hit American roads every day- some not as safe as others.
At least 1 in 3 truck drivers have experienced a serious accident during their career. In 2017, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) reported more than 100,000 injuries and 4,761 fatalities related to large trucking accidents; 23 of these fatalities occurred in Connecticut.
Several hazards plaguing the trucking industry are putting all Americans on the road at risk. And with the demand for trucking on the rise, more long-haul truck drivers will be sharing the roads than ever before. These are the dangers Connecticut residents need to be aware of to help reduce their chances of accidents.
Reckless Truck Drivers
Drivers of large trucks are at a high-risk for accidents from the start. The average loaded truck weighs up to 40,000 pounds, about 10 times the weight of an average passenger vehicle. It can take up to 500 feet for a large truck to stop, it’s impossible to swerve quickly (and safely) around hazards, and visibility is often poor as trucks tower over pedestrian vehicles on the road.
Despite the overt dangers of these large vehicles, accident statistics still find that truck drivers are using reckless driving behaviors that are increasing their chances further of causing fatal accidents. The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey found that 90 percent of trucking accidents are caused by human error, such as inexperience and inattention. Other dangerous behaviors include:
- Distracted Driving– talking on the phone, texting, eating, reading, daydreaming, or doing other actions others than keeping both hands on the wheel.
- Drowsy Driving– swerving, unintentionally switching lanes, and falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Intoxicated Driving– testing positive for Blood Alcohol Content (B.A.C.) at or above .08.
- Neglecting Safety Features– not wearing seatbelts or using turn signals.
- Aggressive Driving– speeding, swerving, tailgating, and pulling risky maneuvers through traffic.
When truckers do not drive with care, the accidents they cause are disastrous. Of the 4,761 fatalities resulting from large truck accidents, only 841 were truck drivers. The remainder of the victims were occupants of other vehicles (3,450) or non-occupants such as pedestrians and cyclists (470).
Rising Risks In The Trucking Industry
Working as a long-haul truck driver in today’s industry is not an easy job. There are several negative factors that accompany the occupation that could also be leading to an increase in reckless driving, aside from obvious neglect. These include:
- High Trucking Demands: More business means more trucks on the road. More trucks on the road leading to an increase in possible accidents.
- Driver Shortage: Current truck drivers are overloaded with work with fewer drivers to split the loads.
- Night Driving: Over-night hours and long nighttime trips lead to becoming fatigued, distracted, and more prone to accidents.
- Long Trips: Some drivers spend up to 16 hours on the road a day, with minimal breaks and rest.
- Isolation: Truck drivers spend the majority of their time away from their family and alone in vehicles without human contact.
Driver fatigue is often a direct and indirect consequence of the trucking profession. While drivers are responsible for knowing when they are too tired to drive, long hours and high demand make it hard for drivers to afford to take a break.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (F.M.C.S.A.) reports that at least 13 percent of large truck drivers involved in vehicle accidents were experiencing some level of fatigue at the time of their crash. Driver fatigue can lead to a slew of harmful effects, including:
- short term memory loss
- loss of vigilance
- decrease cognitive functioning,
- reduced reaction time
- lack of ability to reduce sleep at any given time
When and Where Truck Accidents Occur
In a 10-year-study conducted by the N.H.T.S.A., the following trends were found regarding fatal trucking accidents:
- Truck accidents were more likely to occur in rural areas (58%).
- At least 1 out of 4 accidents occurred on the interstate.
- Weekday accidents were most common (78%).
- Head-on collisions were the most common crash leading to fatalities (32%) followed by rear-end accidents (21%).
- Truck drivers had a higher percentage of previously recorded crashes than drivers of any other motor vehicle.
- Large trucks were three times more likely to be rear-ended than other vehicles.
How To Prevent Trucking Accidents
Connecticut drivers sharing the roads with large trucks, beware. Fatal trucking accidents can happen in an instant. Staying alert to the vehicles around you and practicing safe driving behaviors is the only way to help avoid these tragedies before they occur. Some suggestions include:
- Always use your turn signals.
- Never tailgate a large truck or any car if a large truck is behind you.
- Watch for reckless driving behaviors of large trucks and stay clear if concerning behaviors.
- Never drive impaired, distracted, or fatigued.
- Signal early.
- Never pull risky maneuvers around large trucks- they may not see you coming.
Connecticut Truck Accident Attorneys
Vehicle accidents caused by reckless driving are not acceptable. Truck drivers are accountable for their behaviors on the road, regardless of the stressors that accompany the job.
If you or a loved has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact our expert team of personal injury attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace for a free consultation to explore your options.