Big trucks: A growing menace on U.S. roads
There are lots of unsafe drivers on the road these days but most of them aren’t driving 80,000 pound vehicles. That’s how much a fully-loaded 18-wheeler weighs. Weight can have a crushing impact in a wreck. A truck loaded with nearly 45 tons of sand (90,000 pounds) hit a parked car in Utah, leaving it as flat as a pancake.
Just like car drivers, truck drivers can be guilty of driver error. GTG Technology Group designs software for trucking companies to manage their businesses. Its website lists the five most common causes of trucking accidents. Driver error tops the list. It includes drunk and drowsy driving, distracted driving and reckless driving – behaviors that cause fatal wrecks.
How bad is the danger now?
In the last five years, truck driver deaths have gone up “11.2%. Drivers can work up to 77 hours over a 7-day period before taking a break, making drowsy driving a decided problem. Some trucking companies are illegally forcing drivers to work even longer hours.
Deaths in trucking accidents are “22% higher in 2015” than they were in 2009, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Trucking accidents killed 69% of car drivers and passengers in 2015. They killed just “16 %” of truck drivers. The 2015 figures are the latest available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Commission (FMCSA).
The danger could get worse
Trucking companies are lobbying Congress to increase load limits above 80,000 pounds and increase the length of trailers from 28 feet to 33 feet. Floors of commercial buildings are normally 10 feet tall from floor to ceiling. That would make trailers as long as 3 story buildings.
Trucking companies also want to drop the age of drivers from 21 to 18 for long haul trips even though statistics show that auto accidents are the number one killer of teens, due to reckless driving habits. In mid 2016, The Huffington Post carried an article about lobbyists’ requests to let truckers work 82-hours before taking a break, instead of the current 77 hours.
Wyatt Wright knows why trucking companies want lower safety standards
In 2015, truckers delivered more than 67% of the country’s total freight. But the industry is facing a shortage of drivers just as the improving U.S. economy is boosting demand for consumer goods. Older drivers are retiring. Less experienced, younger drivers will increase the danger. St. Louis personal injury lawyer Wyatt Wright knows that nearly 4,000 people were killed in trucking accidents in 2015 and the peril is apt to grow on American roads for the average passenger car driver.
For years, personal injury lawyer Wyatt Wright has been representing victims of trucking accidents
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