Even the slightest decline in fatal motor vehicle accidents is cause for celebration, and the latest report shows that two percent fewer people died in crashes in 2017 than in the previous year. However, that same report showed a shocking exception. In the category of cars versus large commercial vehicles, the number of fatalities rose 9 percent. About 72 percent of those fatalities were occupants of the smaller vehicles.
There are numerous theories for the sharp increase in fatal truck accidents, and all of those reasons may be enough to make you want to stay far away from trucks when you are on Texas roads. However, this may not be possible, so it is wise to know how to stay safe when traveling and your options if you should become the victim of a truck accident.
Why so many accidents?
Leading up to the sudden increase in truck crashes was the change in federal rules requiring truckers to take 30-minute rest breaks after driving a certain number of hours. Rather than seeing this change as a way to make highways safer for all travelers, some truckers are racing to put as many miles behind them as possible before their next rest break. A speeding truck raises the level of damage in an accident, including the chances of fatal injuries. However, other factors may be causing the increase in truck accidents:
- More truckers are texting or otherwise distracted behind the wheel.
- Trucking companies are hiring younger drivers who have bad driving habits.
- Truckers have a difficult time finding places to park where they can sleep safely during their breaks.
- While newer models of trucks contain high-tech safety equipment, such as automatic braking and driver behavior monitoring, most trucks on the road are older and do not have such equipment.
- Fatigue is still the most common cause of trucker errors that lead to catastrophic accidents.
Safety agencies hear many complaints that the 30-minute rest break serves only to make drivers sleepier, and some truckers feel it is safer to drive straight through an 11-hour shift than to stop partway through to rest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering this as they re-evaluate the rest break rules.
If you have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident involving a large truck, you are undoubtedly suffering beyond words. You may have questions about your options, and reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney may help you obtain the answers and guidance you seek.