Trucking companies in Texas and around the country transport more than 10 billion tons of cargo each year and contribute a significant amount to the nation’s economy, but the cost of that performance is sometimes measured in lives lost and injuries suffered. The number of road users killed in accidents involving semi-tractor trailers has risen by an alarming 28% since 2009. In 2021, that figure rose by 13% from the previous year. Experts say this worrying increase in truck accident fatalities is the inevitable result of a much larger commercial vehicle fleet.
Difficult to control
Semi-tractor trailers transport almost three-quarters of the nation’s cargo, so more trucks are needed when the economy grows. This may be good for businesses and consumers, but it makes road travel a lot more dangerous. Tractor-trailers can weigh as much as 30 times more than a passenger car, and they need up to 40% more road to come to a complete stop. This means that motor vehicle accidents
involving semi-tractor trailers are far more likely to cause death or catastrophic injuries.
Distracted, fatigued and impaired truck drivers
Large commercial vehicles become even more dangerous when they are operated by distracted, fatigued and impaired truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration took action to address fatigue in 2017 when it mandated the installation of electronic hours of service logging devices in all commercial vehicles, but semi-tractor trailer crash statistics suggest that distraction and impairment remain thorny problems. This was demonstrated in 2018 when toxicology tests revealed that a truck driver in Texas was under the influence of marijuana and methamphetamine when he struck the rear of a pickup truck and killed its driver. The man’s family sued the trucking company and were awarded $101 million in damages.
Give trucks a wide berth
You should always give big rigs a wide berth because they can weigh up to 40 tons and can be extremely difficult to control in an emergency even with a skilled and experienced driver behind the wheel. The nation’s truck fleet will continue to grow in the years ahead, which likely means that truck accident fatalities will continue to rise.