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Top Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents and What We Can Do About Them

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There are several factors that come into play during truck accidents. Fortunately, many of them are easy to fix. With commitment to safe driving habits and more attention to truck manufacturing, we can cut down on many injuries and deaths related to accidents involving small and large trucks.

To get truck drivers, trucking companies, and drivers in general to understand the importance of addressing truck dangers, we offer these statistics:

    • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that 3,852 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2015 alone.

    • Of those who died, 16% were occupants of trucks and 69% were occupants of passenger vehicles. Pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists comprised 15% of these deaths.

Truck Defects Risk Driver and Public Safety

Researchers from IIHS partnered with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center to explore various factors that might contribute to crash risk for interstate-operated trucks. Their findings show that major truck defects triple the chance of truck drivers getting into a crash.

The report reveals various elements that increased or decreased the likelihood of crashes. For instance, on the one hand, out-of-service vehicle defects increased crash risk by 362%. On the other hand, the study found that antilock braking systems reduced crash risk by 65%. Also, the use of various safety technologies on trucks significantly reduced the risk of accidents.

Driver Fatigue Puts Everyone on the Road at Risk

Driver Fatigue Puts Everyone on the Road at RiskDriver fatigue is also a major factor. Truck drivers who are behind the wheel for long stretches of time are getting into accidents and ultimately harming themselves and other drivers. What is particularly alarming about this situation is that many truck drivers on extended journeys use the federal short-haul exemption for reporting service hours.

What this means is that short-haul exempted drivers need to comply with federal laws related to rest and work times, but they don’t have to record their actual hours in service. This lack of reporting leads to many truck drivers being behind the wheel way longer than they should be without a break.

To emphasize the danger short-haul exemptions pose, consider:

  • Drivers who operate under short-haul exemptions log fewer miles per year

  • Yet, the crash risk for short-haul drivers is almost 5 times higher

A new Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate recently went into effect, which should more accurately report actual miles driven in a given time period. This improved accountability measure should cut down on the number of truck accidents we see.

Lack of Electronic Stability Control Systems on Trucks Leads to Risk

According to IIHS, crash avoidance features show promise in reducing collisions involving large trucks. When large trucks are equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems and roll stability control systems, there’s less risk of a crash.

As of August 2017, ESC systems are required on tractor-trailers and buses. The intention for these devices is to correct over-steer or under-steer actions, and to reduce rollovers, both of which have to do with loss of control of the vehicle.

Reduced Speeds Decrease Accidents Involving Trucks

In 2012, Virginia Tech University’s Transportation Institute, along with the American Transportation Research Institute, published a study that showed speed reduction could decrease truck accidents on United States roadways. The study looked at data from 20 trucking company fleets, including 138,000 trucks and 15,000 crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used this study as evidence to support its proposed rule mandating new speed limits on trucks. The rule would prevent commercial vehicles from exceeding 68 miles per hour, at any time. The trucking industry has continued to argue that if trucks have a new speed mandate, automobiles must too in order to minimize the speed differential. Evidence shows though, that simply reducing truck speed is more important for keeping our roads safe than addressing speed differential concerns.

Trucks, large and small, pose great dangers for truck drivers, automobiles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. We must all work together to self-regulate and seek regulation as necessary, to keep our roads safe.

If you’ve been injured in a crash involving a truck, whether you think the accident happened because of driver or truck manufacturer negligence, contact Patterson Law Group. Fill out the form on this page and one of our attorneys will be in touch shortly.

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