Truck Accidents: A Dangerous Threat to Public Safety

Semi Trucks Account For A Disproportionate Number Of Auto Accidents Each Year. Know The Facts About Truck Accidents In The United States.

Take a good look around the next time you’re wandering the aisles of your neighborhood shopping emporium. It’s likely that almost every item on the shelf — every apple, every bag of dog food, every pair of blue jeans — was transported via commercial truck. Before that, trucks transferred most of the ingredients, components, and raw materials used from their source to one or more manufacturing plants.

The modern logistics and transportation system is a wonder to behold. A vast nationwide network made up of large delivery companies, independent owner-operators, and everything in between, these trucks are literally the engines that drive the American economy. But according to some experts and analysts, the trucking industry also deserves another distinction — to be ranked among the most serious, pervasive threats to public safety.

Whether you call them big rigs, diesels, tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, or semi trucks, these large commercial vehicles account for a disproportionate number of collisions, wrecks, and crashes each year. Critics contend that a slew of questionable practices and safety lapses may contribute to the problem, and the gradual but steady deregulation of the industry over the last decade has also come under fire from public safety advocates.

What are your chances of being involved in a collision with a commercial truck? Which factors and variables could increase your risk for colliding with a truck? Read on for hints, tips, and insights from top industry experts.

Truck Accident Fast Facts

  • Over the past two decades, the number of registered large trucks has increased by more than 40 percent, while the number of miles traveled by large trucks has increased by nearly 85 percent.
  • Drivers over the age of 65 are involved in fatal accidents with heavy trucks more than three times more often than their younger counterparts.
  • In a collision between a car and a large truck, passenger car occupants are 29 times more likely to be fatally injured.
  • According to data gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board, driver fatigue may cause or contribute to up to 40 percent of all truck collisions.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2004 alone, 416,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes in the United States; of these, 4,862 involved fatalities.
  • In the last year for which comprehensive records are available, 5,190 people died in the United States as result of collisions with large trucks, comprising 12 percent of all known traffic fatalities. 116,000 were non-fatally injured in collisions with large trucks during the same period.
  • In 2004, one out of eight traffic deaths occurred as a result of a collision with a large truck.

What Are The Factors That Cause Truck Collisions?

Each traffic collision is different, but analysts have found that a number of factors are more likely to be involved when the wreck involves a large commercial truck. According to government safety statistics, the most common causes of big rig wrecks include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Excessive or unsafe speeds
  • Tailgating or close following
  • Driver inattention
  • Cellphone usage
  • Improper maintenance
  • Failure to adapt to changing weather or road conditions
  • Excessive or improperly secured cargo loads
  • Sudden lane changes
  • Aggressive driving habits