Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer Discusses Safety Facts about Commercial Trucks
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the total deaths per year in accidents involving large trucks ranged from 4,305 in 1975 to 3,660 in 2014. These fatalities include the occupants of trucks and other types of vehicles, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians.
Although the numbers appear somewhat lower in recent years, the difference seems small considering the increasing safety requirements and advances in technology that have occurred over the 39 intervening years. Why have the fatalities been so stubbornly persistent? Here are three contributing factors to this:
Tractor-Trailer Rigs Are Meant to Haul Cargo
Tractor-trailer rigs are designed to haul lots of cargo. Because of this, they don’t handle as well as sedans. Their enormous weight, about 20 to 30 times that of a sedan, means they require 20-40 percent more braking distance to come to a stop. They are less forgiving than sedans of driver inattention. Because of the limited width of road lanes, hauling lots of cargo requires very tall and long trailers. This makes them unstable and therefore subject to rollovers and jackknifing. Turning corners too fast, improper trailer loading, and even gusty winds can tip trucks over. In short, the need to economically haul cargo requires a design tradeoff of safety for load capacity.
Even the latest safety features of today’s cars can’t negate the enormous weight mismatch between commercial trucks and passenger cars. In collisions, the smaller vehicle always bears the brunt of the damage, injuries, and fatalities.
Lack of Extensive Driver Experience
Driving tractor-trailer rigs is not an easy profession. Truck drivers often log thousands of miles per week, and spend weeks at a time away from their homes. Truck driving is also among the most dangerous jobs. This is why it has such a high turnover rate. This high turnover plus the retirement of highly experienced baby boomers, has caused a shortage of experienced drivers.
An Inherently Unsafe Economic Model
Truck drivers get paid by miles driven rather than by the hour. Truckers can increase their pay per hour by covering more distance per hour. This of course, means driving at a higher average speed. While speed limits and law enforcement exist to keep speeding in check, the economic incentive for truckers to speed is a powerful motivator. Although regulations limit their driving hours, the need to earn a good living causes some drivers to violate these limits. The temptation is especially strong when traffic congestion and load pick up delays cause lost time.
If an accident with a truck injured you or a loved one, an experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer can advise you of your legal options. For an assessment of your case, contact us at Frekhtman & Associates.