Trucks and tractor trailers have long been the undisputed kings of the road. By their sheer size and presence on the highways, many drivers, especially the young and inexperienced, avoid them as much possible. This stands to reason as over 7 of every 12 accidents that involve these road behemoths end in at least one fatality. Of that number, over 73% of the time, it’s the driver or the passenger of the other vehicle that dies. Here are some of the more common reasons behind truck accidents:
Distracted driving has been called an epidemic by our transport authorities. Often, trucks are equipped with handheld or CB radios for communication (or as a form of entertainment) for the long, monotonous hours on the road. While there are less stringent laws regarding their use, these things figure in to a lot of truck accidents.
Distracted driving takes other forms. It can be sending or reading a text message from a wife or loved one, or reading emails or messages from local logistics managers for updates on their routes and cargoes.
Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse
In 2007 drug use, either prescription or illicit, was the most common cause of truck accidents. In 26% of the crashes the drugs taken affected the truck driver’s reaction time.
Several more recent studies have suggested that there is a growing number of arrests being made against truck drivers for DUI.
The act of maneuvering a tractor trailer is not as easy as a lot of people think. It is a highly technical and delicate skill not in small part due to the interfaces of other vehicles. By taking these operations at higher speeds, the risk increases exponentially especially when done under less than optimal conditions. In the worst cases, these drivers have not logged the required number of hours to safely operate these vehicles or have received little to no training at all.
Poor Working Conditions
Just like a larger percentage of the working class, truck drivers rarely enjoy employment that pays just compensation. The costs of doing business for trucking and logistics companies – rising fuel costs, high equipment maintenance – drives them to set unrealistic delivery deadlines and cargo checkpoints for their overworked and underpaid employees. These less-than-stellar operating conditions sometimes cause drivers to resort to maladaptive coping mechanisms that put the public in danger.
Logistics and trucking agencies run the business and as is often the case, their need to increase their bottom-line drives them to keep costs down. This includes but is not limited to using surplus equipment to service their vehicles, running more miles between servicing or sometimes, skipping routine checks before taking trips. As more and more concerned traffic groups are calling the attention of the government, increasing profits is not an excuse for claiming the lives of thousands of people each year.
On balance, all blame does not fall squarely on the shoulders of the drivers. Stricter legislation is still quite a long way off, even as these glaring numbers continue to grow.
If you or anyone you know has been hurt in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the truck accident lawyers at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann. Since 1993 James Hoffmann has been concentrating his practice on helping Truck Accident Victims in and around the St. Louis area.