Large commercial trucks are a major cause of deadly accidents on interstates, highways and freeways across America. In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in trucking accidents, while in 2016 3,986 people died in large truck crashes, and another 4,102 people died in 2017. Thousands more were injured, many severely. Frighteningly, the numbers have been increasing with the years.
Eleven percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2017 occurred in crashes involving large trucks. The majority of the victims in these crashes were the passengers or drivers of the passenger vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. However, 17% of these deaths were persons riding in the truck as a passenger or the truck driver.
Despite being subject to strict government FMCSA rules regulating the number of hours truckers can legally drive, drivers are nevertheless under pressure to meet their travel deadlines. Some do not take adequate rest breaks, and others speed or engage in various dangerous behaviors at the wheel that put themselves and others on the road at risk.
The problem is especially pronounced for long-haul drivers whose routes require extensive driving over long periods of time, often with lots of unexpected delays impeding their progress. It is on these lengthy trips that span more than 51 miles that 65% of trucking accidents occur according to statistics.
One method, in particular, that truckers are using to try to get their mileage in is driving above the speed limit. This behavior is highly problematic because truckers who speed are considered much more prone to engage in other risky driving behaviors like talking or texting on their cell phones, eating and drinking, personal grooming, completing paperwork and taking their hands off the wheel.
All of these risky driving behaviors create serious dangers while driving at safe speeds. However, at excessive speeds, truck drivers are twice as likely to be the cause of a fatal crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding drivers account for 27 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. Between 2015 and 2016, speed-related motor vehicle fatalities rose by four percent.
Installing advanced safety technologies in large commercial trucks can prevent about 63,000 truck-related crashes every year, according to Ankin Law Office LLC. Truck safety technologies like automatic emergency braking systems, air disc brakes, lane departure warning systems, and video monitoring systems are saving thousands of lives every year.
Video monitoring systems, especially, can detect speeding, impaired driving and other risky accident causing behavior on account of sensors and video cameras used to monitor the driver’s behavior while behind the wheel. Potentially, as many as 17,733 injuries and 293 deaths could be prevented each year if this technology was mandatory.