The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report, finding that trucking deaths have been rising in recent years – from 786 in 2016 to 843 in 2019. (This number dropped somewhat in 2020, likely due to the lower number of overall vehicles on the road during the pandemic.) The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it plans to investigate the reasons behind this overall incline.
Trucking companies and truck drivers point to different causes for the increased fatalities in this industry.
Some employers assert that driver behavior is to blame. They point to issues such as:
- Failure to wear a seat belt
- Driving while fatigued
- Distracted driving
Drawbacks of safety technology
Some trucking companies have added enhanced safety features to their trucks – such as lane departure alerts and automatic emergency braking – to help limit accidents. However, some truck drivers contend that such technology actually contributes to the problem – rather than curtails it.
They allege that features which can enhance safety in a small vehicle actually create safety hazards in a big rig. Automatic emergency braking in a heavy-duty truck involves an enormous amount of force. One trucker reported that such braking systems almost sent her through the windshield.
In addition, because semi-trucks are much wider than other vehicles on the road, they naturally ride closer to the lane lines at all times. Truckers report that lane controls in such vehicles result in constant beeping – and a distracting, irritating driving experience.
Another issue that drivers cited was insufficient training of new drivers. They claim that trucking companies are often too anxious to get drivers on the road – and they neglect to adequately prepare new drivers for the responsibilities of the job.
When a large truck collides with a smaller vehicle on the road, the result for the other vehicle is almost always catastrophic. It’s important for victims of such accidents – and their family members – to understand their rights to seek justice under the law.