The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that truck transportation is one of the most dangerous occupations. The research shows that per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers, there are 28 deaths. It seems that every day there’s a new story of a trucking accident, often fatal and involving other road users too. So, what makes trucking accidents so common and can anything be done about it?
Traveling too fast for the conditions
Research shows that trucks traveling too fast equates to 23% of all truck accidents. “Too fast” isn’t just about the speed limit: it’s about traveling at a suitable speed based on the weather conditions, traffic levels, and the road itself. In fact, trucks traveling too fast have been found to be a massive 670% more likely to have an accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) advises drivers to drop their speed by one third when roads are wet and by at least half when there’s heavy snow on roads. This means that if there’s a speed limit of 60 mph, drivers should reduce it down to 40 mph in the rain and to 30 mph on a snow-packed road. Any faster comes with more risks, and it’s ultimately up to truck drivers to be responsible.
Problems with the brakes
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) found that 29% of truck crashes resulted from brake problems. Surprisingly, this was actually the most likely cause of a truck crash. Faulty brakes were attributed to a 170% increased chance of a truck having an accident. Quite simply, this one is a fairly easy fix and requires truckers to regularly have their vehicles checked and fix any problems promptly. That being said, it’s not always apparent that there is a problem with the brakes until it’s too late. This can result in expensive medical and legal bills, and other drivers hit by a truck with faulty brakes are advised to speak with a lawyer after a truck accident. Compensation may be available to help with finances, and this also applies to the truck driver, particularly if the brakes were regularly checked and maintained, and brake failure was unlikely.
New and unfamiliar roads
Part of a truck driver’s job is to travel on roads that they’re not always familiar with. Even on familiar routes, diversions can quickly change this and result in the unfamiliar. The LTCCS report found that truck crashes increased by 100% when drivers were on an unfamiliar route and it was responsible for 22% of all truck accidents. Truck drivers should plan their journeys so that they know what to expect as much as possible, and they may be able to find out about planned diversions such as road works, helping them to find an alternative route. Experience and driving with patience also goes a long way in reducing the risk of an accident on an unfamiliar road and shouldn’t be underestimated.
These are the top three causes of trucking accidents across America and come with some simple ways of reducing the risks. Ultimately, the high accident rates for truckers come down to how sensibly they drive and how much planning they put in before they set out.