Last spring’s crash involving a van carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and a big-rig was the latest in a series of deadly accidents which has led to concerns about the safety practices of the trucking industry. Morgan was seriously injured when a Wal-Mart truck, driven by a man who’d been awake for more than 24 hours, slammed into his vehicle. A fellow passenger was killed.
Truck accidents have been increasing in recent years. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 3,757 people died in collisions with trucks in 2011. Though the nearly 11 million trucks traveling U.S. roads each year comprise only 4.7 percent of all passenger vehicles, they’re involved in 12.4 percent of all fatal crashes. Per miles driven, fatalities for trucks are 17 percent higher than for smaller vehicles.
Many safety advocates point to over-fatigued drivers pressured by employers to reach their destinations quickly to cut costs for the rise in accidents. Some say laws intended to make our highways safer by restricting commercial drivers to 14-hour workdays are backfiring and having the opposite effect.
According to Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), strict time regulations force some drivers to skip breaks when they need them. “I don’t know how you can conclude anything other than the regulations have made highways less safe,” he said. Why Long-Haul Truckers Are So Tired
But the trucking industry cites other factors for the surge in crashes, including the need for better brakes and warning technology in all semi-trucks and the improving economy– more trucks on the road translates into more accidents. NBC News Article
Careless motorists also play a role in truck collisions. To help reduce accidents, automobile drivers should always adhere to these safety tips when driving near trucks:
- Avoid driving too close to a truck for too long
- Stay visible to the driver
- Remember that trucks take longer to slow down and maneuver
For information about trucking safety visit //www.nhtsa.gov.