Keep Truckin reports that there has been a 20 percent increase in commercial truck accidents over the last ten years, despite rules and regulations that have been put in place to reduce such crashes. Now, a joint National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration survey points to overworked, tired truck drivers as being a leading cause of these devastating crashes.
This study looked at more than 12,000 commercial truck accidents over the course of three years, which totaled a reported 249 deaths and over 1,600 injuries. Nearly three fourths of the accidents involved a commercial truck hitting at least one other vehicle. Data was collected through various means, including driver and witness interviews, driver logs, police reports, hospital records and crash site inspection reports. For each incident, researchers collected data based on the various factors involved, such as driver condition and behavior, vehicle and truck condition, and weather and roadway factors.
The top factor for truck crashes was driver error, occurring in 87 percent of all crashes. In 38 percent of truck accidents, driver decisions like speeding or following too closely were a main factor. Appearing in 28 percent of the accidents was recognition, or the driver’s failure to pay attention to his or her surroundings for some reason. The last two factors, performance (9 percent) and non-performance (12 percent), involved the driver’s reaction or failure to react to the accident right before and as it happened.
Naturally, experiencing fatigue as a driver or falling asleep at the wheel was seen as a component in many of these crashes as it contributed heavily to driver error and other mistakes that proved to have tragic consequences. In a significant slice of the accidents, many truck drivers were found to be speeding or driving on not enough sleep to meet the demands of their employers in terms of pickups and drop-offs. As noted by Keep Truckin, the job stress a commercial truck driver regularly experiences can also cause fatigue, and it is common in the commercial truck field because of the long hours and tight deadlines involved in the job.
Truck drivers often work long hours to meet goals set by their employers and may sometimes be persuaded to take shifts when they should be taking time off instead. Federal laws limit the amount of time that truck drivers can be on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers carrying cargo can drive a maximum of 11 hours in a row on the same day, provided they have had 10 hours in a row off. On top of the hour’s rule, there are still other regulations regarding breaks and sleep. Unfortunately, these rules are not always followed.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a commercial truck accident, the economic losses and emotional impact can be devastating. Speak to an experienced attorney, like a trucking accident lawyer Denver CO trusts, as soon as possible about your rights.
Thanks to our friend and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into trucking accident and personal injury practice.