Between 2016 and 2017, the number of people killed in trucking accidents in this country spiked some 9 percent. Yet, safety does not rank as one of today’s top priorities of the U.S. trucking industry.
The numbers are staggering. While total deaths in all U.S. motor vehicle crashes fell almost 2 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, fatal trucking accidents rose dramatically. The number of people killed in tractor-trailer crashes increased nearly 6 percent. And deaths in accidents involving commercial straight trucks jumped almost 19 percent.
But public safety remains a low concern for trucking companies and truck drivers.
Top Trucking Industry Worry is not Safety
The American Transportation Research Institute, the leading research organization for the U.S. trucking industry, annually surveys truckers and their employers to gauge their professional worries. They recently announced the findings of the 2018 survey, listing the top 10 business concerns for motor carriers and commercial truck drivers.
It terms of addressing the causes for fatal accidents, both lists were disappointing, but not surprising.
Trucking companies listed driver shortage as its number one concern. The demand for truckers has been growing in recent years. More shipping caused by online shopping, combined with high levels of retirement means the industry is facing a dramatic shortfall for truck drivers.
One of the industry’s desired fixes to this shortage is to have people as young as 18 be allowed to drive big rigs across state lines. But having drivers this inexperienced in charge of tractor-trailer combos is a questionable strategy.
Tired Truck Drivers and Catastrophic Crashes
Federal Hours of Service Rules that mandate how long truckers can drive in a day and week are the top concern for commercial truckers. They came in number 3 on the motor carriers list of concerns.
Both drivers and trucking companies want the rules relaxed. But the rules are designed to keep fatigued truck drivers off the road. Tired truck drivers can cause catastrophic trucking accidents.
Related to the Hours of Service Rules is the fairly new federal Electronic Logging Device Mandate. This requires most commercial truck drivers to record their working hours electronically. Prior to this rule, truck drivers used printed log books, which could be easily manipulated to fool law enforcement officials.
At least the motor carriers had one item in their top 10 concerns that was focused on public safety: distracted drivers. However, their concern was mostly with other distracted drivers rather than truckers. The report did mention that an increase of in-cab technologies – forward-facing cameras, collision warning systems, and others – may be dangerously distracting to truck drivers.
The ARTI report also mentions a concern over the public’s growing cell phone use. Federal law bans commercial truckers from using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel.
There are many causes for fatal trucking accidents but it appears the trucking industry is not holding itself responsible for reducing them. It’s clear their main priority is profits, not public safety.
If you lost a family member in a crash involving a commercial truck, an attorney who represents victims of trucking accidents can bring all those responsible to account.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles November 28, 2018