A motor vehicle crash is a scary experience for anyone and even more so if a truck is involved. Because of the disparity in size and weight, cars don’t stand a chance when up against a truck in an accident. Truck accidents kill approximately 4,000 people each year, many of them occupants in passenger vehicles.
In the United States, even though motor vehicle crash numbers are down, truck crashes are up 20 percent in the last decade and truck fatalities are at their highest level in 29 years. Even worse for us, Texas leads the country in trucking accidents and fatalities, with more than 550 people killed in 2016 alone.
Research shows driver error
According to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) and a Truck Causation Study done over 33 months, many of the accidents can be attributed to truck driver error, specifically fatigue and speed. Commercial haulers are under growing pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines. Despite federal regulations to limit the number of hours a trucker spends on the road in a day, truckers are operating their vehicles without adequate rest in order to meet the deadlines. The tight schedules can also mean speeding to make it on time.
In addition to fatigue, the research categorized four main areas of truck driver error:
- Non-performance: the driver either fell asleep at the wheel or suffered a debilitating medical condition.
- Recognition: the driver was distracted or failed to adequately assess the situation.
- Decision: the driver was speeding, following too closely or misjudged the speed of others.
- Performance: the driver panicked or overreacted.
Of the crashes they studied, the driver was often suffering an extreme physical condition right before the accident.
Tips to avoid a crash with a truck
If you’re traveling around trucks, follow these tips to stay safe in their presence:
- Stay out of the truck’s blind spots.
- Give them space and don’t follow too closely.
- Know that it takes longer for trucks to stop and maneuver and plan accordingly.
- Practice caution when passing.
With freight demands increasing, truck crashes and the resulting fatalities are likely to increase as well. Truck drivers are often at fault in a truck-related motor vehicle crash and passengers in cars are often the victims. Use caution and drive safely when out on the roadways around commercial trucks.