All across the country, truck accidents are on the rise. We rely on tractor-trailers to deliver the goods and products we need to live and work, and as the economy improves there are more trucks on the road than ever. However, this uptick in commerce may come at a cost – increased injuries and fatalities on our roads.
Semi-truck accidents in the United States have been steadily rising since 2009, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In 2017, 4,102 people died in large truck accidents, up from 3,163 in 2009. With all of the new truck safety technology available, why aren’t tractor-trailer accidents decreasing?
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one reason. Things like driver error, infrastructure, or vehicle malfunction can all contribute to a truck accident. The IIHS mentions issues like braking capability and driver fatigue as known crash risks. Additionally, they note that most deaths in semi-truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles, due to the vulnerability of the smaller vehicle.
Other truck accident causes include:
- Technology distractions – Much of the tech designed to make driving easier can lead to distracted driving when not used properly. Things like hands-free cellphones and dashboard navigation systems can take a driver’s eyes off the road or even give them a false sense of security. Looking away from the road for just five seconds – the time it takes to read or send a text – is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Mechanical malfunctions – When a truck isn’t properly maintained, it can suffer mechanical breakdowns and cause tragic accidents. Examples of this could be tire blowouts, brake failure, steering failure, or blown-out headlights. Overloaded trucks can also cause rollover or other catastrophic accidents.
- Driver fatigue – FMCSA regulations are designed to keep fatigued truck drivers off the road. Drowsy drivers suffer from delayed reaction times, impaired judgment, and possibly falling asleep at the wheel. Although federal law prohibits truckers from being on the road more than 11 hours at a stretch, some companies bend the rules.
- Changing infrastructure – As we improve our highway system in Minot and around the country, truckers can be surprised or confused by constantly changing traffic patterns or detours. Combined with rough roads and unfamiliar territory, careless truck drivers can cause accidents.
- Speeding – The IIHS also mentions speeding as a factor in many truck crashes. Truckers are often under a time crunch and have to meet delivery deadlines. Some interstate truck drivers get paid by the mile, which can give them the incentive to speed – and cause accidents.
Tractor-trailer and commercial truck accident cases can be extremely complex. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a truck accident, the attorneys at Larson Law Firm, P.C. can help you work through all the red tape. We fight for your right to full compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call our Minot office at 701-484-4878, or fill out our contact form.