More Trucks, More Miles, and Cheaper Gas Increase Injury and Fatality Rates
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of fatalities arising out of large truck accidents went up by approximately five percent in 2017, with more than 4,000 lives lost in commercial truck accidents. Authorities believe that lower fuel prices contributed significantly to the increase, as the reduced price of gas has been an incentive for truckers to put more miles on the road. In addition, they say that the number of trucks on the road continues to climb, with nearly two million 18 wheelers on the road on any given day.
Statistics gathered by the FMCSA indicate that the wrongful acts of truck drivers are the most common cause of big rig accidents. One study found that more than 25% of all commercial truck accidents involve improper use of pharmaceutical products, often substances designed to keep drivers awake for longer hours. Another factor cited in almost as many crashes was the use of excessive speed. Other frequent causes of large truck accidents:
- Overly aggressive driving, often involving road rage
- Distracted driving, including the use of cell phones, tablets and music players
- Failure to obey traffic laws or signs
- Failure to check mirrors before turning, changing lanes, or sudden braking
- Lack of familiarity with roadways
Violation of State and Federal Trucking Regulations
Because of a long history of trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue or poorly maintained vehicles, state and national authorities have enacted regulations requiring that drivers and trucking companies keep logs of time on the road, as well as all maintenance done to the truck. There are restrictions on how long a trucker can be on the road without a break, as well as how many hours a driver may be behind the wheel during a specific period of time. The reality, though, is that many drivers or their companies ignore or falsify these logs.