A car accident is a scary experience for anyone and even more so when a truck is involved. Because of a truck's massive size and weight, passenger vehicles usually sustain the most damage and often, the resulting fatalities are passengers in the cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 4,000 people are killed each year in truck-related crashes.
Auto safety, in general, has improved in the last decade resulting in fewer crashes. However, collisions involving trucks are on the rise. According to NHTSA data, truck accidents are up 20 percent and truck fatalities are at their highest rate in 29 years.
Truck driver error to blame
A truck causation study done by NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that a number of these accidents can be attributed to truck driver error. The research looked at thousands of truck crashes over a 33-month period and found that both driver fatigue and speed were main factors in the collisions.
Truck drivers are under continued pressure to meet tight deadlines and are therefore operating their vehicles without adequate rest. The federal regulations meant to limit the number of hours a driver spends on the road during a day or over a week's time often go unfollowed. The research found that drivers in a number of the crashes were under adverse physical conditions right before the crash. Drivers are also often speeding in order to meet the tight schedules.
Fatigued drivers can cause dangerous crashes, but the study categorized four main areas of driver error in 87 percent of the crashes:
- Non-performance: The driver either fell asleep at the wheel or was impaired by a medical condition.
- Recognition: The driver was distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle or failed to adequately assess the situation.
- Decision: The driver was speeding, following too close or misjudged the speed of others.
- Performance: The driver overreacted or panicked.
Additional driver errors included improperly loaded cargo, lack of driver experience and unfamiliarity with the roadway.
The need for goods and freight is at an all-time high, meaning our roads and highways are seeing an increase in truck traffic. Since truck drivers are often at fault in truck-related motor vehicle crashes, accident victims may be able to recover compensation for their injuries and other losses.