Semi-Truck Accidents Seriously Injure and Kill
Studies conducted by the National Highway and Safety Administration from 2010 reveal that 3,675 people were killed and 80,000 people injured in crashes involving large tractor trailer or semi-trucks. From this figure, approximately 17,000 were children. Children are oftentimes more seriously harmed in semi-truck accidents due to a multitude of reasons but are clearly more vulnerable. Of course, given the physics of a large, multi-ton semi-truck impacting a passenger car, it is amazing that anyone survives this type of crash. Road safety by trucking companies should be followed and placed in the forefront of everything they do. But, despite heavy regulation by federal and state governments, trucking companies still seem to place getting their loads delivered at whatever cost ahead of public safety. Everyday you see large trucks driving too fast with big loads and cutting over lanes in front of other cars and trucks on the road. The causes of these fatal accidents are many, but we see a persistent pattern of negligence.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
The picture to the right is a classic example of overloading and why tractor trailer accidents still occur on our roadways. The load depicted is clearly unsafe and never should have been allowed to leave the terminal. No matter how “secure” in the beginning, an experienced semi-truck driver will tell you ALL loads shift. Braking, turning, and other typical driving maneuvers will make heavy loads unstable and dangerous. If the truck has to take evasive action or a sharp turn, the load will move and cause the driver to lose control. It takes real effort to keep a fully loaded truck on the road. When control is lost, only time and distance will eventually stop the truck. Anything or anyone who gets in the way is just doomed.
Another major cause of tractor trailer accidents is driver fatigue due to long hours on the road and excessive delivery demands. These days, the average age of a semi-truck driver is over 50 years old. Younger people simply do not want to drive trucks. The life of a trucker can be a lonely one. You are gone from friends and family for days or even weeks at a time. In addition, being stuck behind the wheel day after day becomes very boring and monotonous. Semi-truck drivers say they get “stir crazy” even though they are traveling at 60 plus MPH. As a result, there is a real, nationwide driver shortage. Consequently, there are fewer drivers available to deliver more loads which means longer times and distances to get the job done. And tractor trailer trucking companies place more demands on their existing drivers to meet their schedules no matter what.
The final cause of semi-truck accidents we will discuss is improper maintenance on trucks. Given the shortage of drivers, trucking companies use fewer trucks. Semi-trucks are very expensive and have to be in motion to be paying for themselves. Companies still trying to remain profitable have to prolong usage between service rotations. As a result, trucks are going longer before critical updates other than oil changes. Brakes and tires require more time off the road and are costly. While oil changes keep the engine going, brakes and tires keep the truck on the road. Hopefully, as the economy improves, younger drivers will be drawn into the trucking profession. Although it is certainly hard work, the pay is also greatly above average. And with no time to spend it, a person could drive a semi-truck for a few years and really save up some money. It would also help make our roads a little safer as younger drivers can remain alert longer than older truckers. All drivers on the highways just want to get home safely.