After years of steady decline, traffic fatalities are back on the rise and on pace for another 9 percent increase this year. But it is not limited to just cars and trucks – the number of tractor-trailer trucks involved in fatal crashes jumped 8 percent last year according to research from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Experts point to several factors for the sudden spike in traffic accidents across the board, such as a rebounding economy, lower unemployment, and consistently low gas prices. But what is to blame for the accidents themselves?
Driving Factors for Trucking Accidents
The more obvious reasons can include truckers driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, but often times truckers drive impaired as a result of exhaustion from lack of sleep and use drugs to stay awake. Research suggests the most popular medications of choice are alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana. Another study revealed that roughly half of the truck driver’s worldwide drink on the job and approximately 30 percent admit to amphetamine use. The United States, in fact, boasted the highest percentage of truck drivers who actually tested positive for drunk driving at 12.5 percent, according to the 2013 study. Driving a big rig truck while impaired is exceptionally dangerous because it slows reaction times and good judgment, which are very important when driving a vehicle as large as a semi. If one of these larger trucks hits a smaller vehicle, it can result in major injuries for both parties involved.
An exhaustive DOT report, “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study,” points to several other factors, such as:
- Driver fatigue
- Loss of control due to a critical event, such as a blowout
- Vehicle failure – such as an engine problem or hood detachment
- Encroachment of another vehicle into the truck’s lane
- Poor road conditions
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Shifting cargo
- Lane drift
- Driving off the edge of the road
- Improper truck maneuvering during normal operation
Legal Battle for Semi-truckers
In late 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finalized a rule to force truckers to operate with logging devices so they could track hours of service. The rule goes into effect Dec. 18, 2017, and was written to help enforce rules regulating how many hours a driver can operate their truck each day, along with how much rest they must have before a trip. Semi-truckers have stricter state and federal regulations than private vehicles for a reason. Often times truckers drive longer than what is allowed for extra hours and abuse substances to stay awake.
Surprisingly, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is still fighting that rule. Its latest, and possibly last attempt is a recently filed petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting the rule be overturned on the grounds that it violates a trucker’s right to privacy. This legal battle continues as the number of accidents involving tractor-trailer truck operators has been on the rise for a couple of years. Last year, roughly 1 percent of big rig accidents resulted in a fatality, while about 20 percent caused some kind of injury.
If you have been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, it is important you find an attorney you can trust before it is too late. The Burg Simpson truck accident lawyers have the knowledge of state and federal regulations placed on truck drivers; many of our accident lawyers even have commercial driver’s licenses of their own. So let a Denver personal injury attorney fight for you by filling out a Free Case Evaluation form now.