According to truck drivers, North Dakota is on a short list of the toughest places to drive in the winter. Winter weather spans almost six months in the Northwest. That adds up to a lot of danger for everyone on the road. With the oil drilling being the state’s primary industry, there are a lot of trucks traveling through year round.
North Dakota has the highest truck driver fatality rate in the country; 8.8% of all N.D. vehicle fatalities involve truckers, compared to 2.4% nationwide.
Other states that are dangerous to truck drivers
Some of the states that truck drivers fear the most, and why, are:
- Colorado: Black ice, winds, and mountains are cited as primary driving risks. Black ice forms easily on roadways in states with big open spaces. Drivers encounter icy roads and high winds combined with falling rocks and nowhere to go. Cars or motorcycles really don’t stand a chance against those conditions if a truck loses control.
- Texas: Flash floods present the majority of concern for truckers. If a flooding is enough to carry a big rig away, anything in its path is likely to be demolished. The truck basically becomes an 80,000 pound bowling ball.
- Alabama: Logging trucks are the deadly threat here. Other truck drivers report logging trucks pulling out of side dirt roads, essentially cutting off other vehicles. Eighteen wheelers can’t stop short, and long piles of logs hanging off the backs of trucks cut the necessary stopping distance even more. Any other vehicles on the road can suffer anything from being thrust into a truck to being crushed under a load of falling logs.
- Nebraska: High winds with vast open spaces leaves trucks vulnerable to being pushed off the road when the container is empty. This can result in a rollover accident. Other cars can be hit in the process, or even trapped under a truck that has tipped over.
What makes North Dakota so much worse for truck drivers?
The state has some of the same hazards as truck drivers have reported in other states, like logging trucks and icy roads – but when you have an annual snow fall of 46 to 51 inches, the ground isn’t going to get much chance to dry off.
Truck drivers are sometimes forced to make up time from delays for other reasons, and when ice is added to the mix, it can quickly turn dangerous. Then there is the issue of significant temperature variance inside the cab of the truck. Drivers can experience below zero coldness on one side of their body while the other side is warm. This poses a danger from a focus standpoint and potential joint stiffening delaying reaction times.
Whiteout conditions from blowing snow and vehicles overtaking a truck can easily cause catastrophe. If a driver can’t see the vehicles or other obstacles around him or her for any length of time, a car crash is bound to happen.
Shorter days have also been noted as a factor that poses a danger on the road. Trucks traveling in states like North Dakota, have fewer daylight hours to operate. That means driving more in the dark when it’s harder to see ice patches or even wild animals darting in front of trucks that require time to safely react.
Truckers who are aware of the inherent dangerous conditions of particular states they work in have a duty to alter their driving for everyone’s safety. Failing to slow down or even move off the road until dangerous wind or other factors dissipate, is negligent behavior. When trucking accidents happen here, however, the more likely cause is inexperience, especially if the driver is from out-of-state.
The North Dakota truck accident attorneys at Larson Law Firm, P.C. believe in holding the liable parties accountable for your injuries. To schedule your free consultation in our Minot or Bismarck offices, call 701-484-4878, or reach out to us through our contact page today.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson