Large trucks and tractor-trailers make up less than one-tenth of all the vehicles on the road, but are involved in roughly half a million accidents each year. Though most drivers will rarely see a truck crash, looking at this problem at a larger scale leads to a frightening question: are truckers more likely to get in a crash?
To get an idea of the extent of the issue, we need to look at commercial trucking crashes. According to the Bureau of Labor, there are 2 million active commercial truck drivers in the US as of 2019. In a given year, 450,000 of those truckers will be involved in a serious car crash. That means there’s about a 1-in-5 chance that any truck driver will be involved in an accident each year on the job.
Truck drivers have a disproportionately high crash rate per driver when compared with other license holders. Truckers make up 0.008% of all licensed drivers but are involved in 8% of all auto accidents nationwide. Put another way, a commercial truck driver is a thousand times more likely to get in a crash than the average driver. While this is partially due to the sheer number of miles a trucker travels in a year, it’s clear that the number of crashes is disproportionately high.
In most cases, there’s no single cause for a trucking crash. More often, it’s multiple factors snowballing together, exacerbating the risk of a crash. That said, trucking crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) highlights three common factors in these wrecks.
Negligent Maintenance: The FMCSA found that negligent maintenance played a part in around 40% of trucking wrecks. While negligent maintenance describes a variety of factors, failed brakes and unsecured cargo were two of the most common elements in these types of crashes.
Driver Error or Negligence: While the smaller vehicle is more often responsible for highway trucking collisions, truckers aren’t immune to poor driving maneuvers and bad decision making. Trucking accidents caused by improper maneuvers are becoming more common as new truckers have far less training than industry veterans.
Another 12% of truck crashes are caused by truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel. That’s no coincidence; many truckers complain of fatigue after driving multiple 11-hour days. The FMCSA found pressure from management as a serious contributing factor in a trucker’s willingness to drive beyond their physical limits.
Speeding: Speeding-related crashes are intrinsically deadlier. All the extra force driving the truck faster translates to more damage in a crash. The FMCSA found speeding as a contributing factor in 25% of trucking wrecks. This is especially worrying when paired with the number of failed brakes. It means that truckers must pay close attention to their speed; once something goes wrong, it may be too late to do anything about it.
Truck crashes and fatalities are rising, but it seems the requirements to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) become increasingly less onerous each year. In February 2020, the FMCSA overhauled CDL entry requirements.
Now, there’s no requirement for classroom hours and drivers need just 30-hours of behind-the-wheel training to take their driver’s test. This, combined with an extremely high turnover rate, could spell even more truck crashes in the coming years.
A truck crash can be very complicated. Those involved need to determine who is responsible for the crash, which may mean getting the company involved or filing multiple claims in a multi-vehicle crash. Additionally, insurance companies that cover commercial trucks may deny their drivers were at fault, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
More importantly, truck crashes are often more severe than a normal collision. The pain and damages may leave victims unable to deal with the maze of insurance claims and negotiations with the various entities involved. A skilled auto injury attorney from Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook can handle the case from start to finish while victims rest and recover. Retaining an experienced attorney will greatly increase your chances of holding the truck company accountable and receiving fair compensation for your injuries.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a trucking crash, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Walnut Creek personal injury attorney from Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (925) 275-5592 or send us an email.