According to a federal study on the causes of fatal trucking accidents, the number one factor is driver-related. Why, then, are trucking interests fighting proposed legislation that’s designed to improve truck driver performance?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released its Large Truck Crash Causation Study in 2007. To date, it’s the most comprehensive look into why commercial truck accidents occur. The study reviewed close to 1,000 truck crashes in 17 states, which killed 249 people and injured over 1,600.
Among its conclusions was that the number one “critical reason” – the primary cause leading to a tractor trailer accident – involved the truck driver. A driver mistake was found to be a critical reason in 87 percent of the semi crashes studied.
Types of Truck Driver Errors that Cause Accidents
Researchers placed the truck driver errors into four broad categories:
- Non-performance – truck driver fell asleep or was impaired in some other fashion
- Recognition – inattentive or distracted truck driver
- Decision – truck driver driving too fast for conditions or misjudging speed of other vehicles
- Performance – truck driver controlled his rig poorly
This year, the federal government is attempting to initiate new rules for better and more consistent training of new truck drivers. The trucking industry is opposing these news rules and, given the fact that driver error plays such a large role in catastrophic truck crashes, its opposition is troubling.
Recommendation That New Truck Drivers Have 30 Hours of Training Time
An FMCSA advisory group helping to shape the driver training rules recommended that every new truck driver be required to spend at least 30 hours behind the wheel of a big rig – at least 10 of those actually on the road – before receiving a Class A commercial driver’s license.
Trucking concerns are fighting this recommendation, not necessarily based on what best protects the safety of others, but what best protects their bottom lines. Some argue that the 30-hour-rule requirement could reduce the number of new driver applicants for companies. They say this additional behind-the-wheel time may deter many candidates from choosing tractor-trailer driver as a career. And fewer drivers mean less revenue.
Unfortunately, the trucking industry too often puts corporate profits before safety. This is just the latest example. That’s why if you’ve been seriously injured or had a loved one killed in a crash caused by an inattentive truck driver, you may want to speak with an attorney who is experienced in tractor-trailer accident investigations. He or she can protect your legal rights and pursue just compensation from uncooperative trucking companies.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.