The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently reported an alarming increase in 18-wheeler truck accidents, resulting in numerous personal injuries and fatalities. In 2011 alone, 3,757 people tragically lost their lives in collisions with trucks, marking an 11.2 percent increase from 2009. Alarmingly, truck collisions account for nearly three times as many deaths as aviation, boating, and railroad accidents combined.
The Role of 18-Wheeler Trucks in Freight Transportation
18-wheeler trucks represent the primary method of freight transportation in the United States, holding a substantial 67 percent market share. With 11 million trucks traversing U.S. roads each year, they make up 4.7 percent of all passenger vehicles. However, their representation in fatal crashes is disproportionate, as they are involved in 12.4 percent of all such incidents. Per miles driven, the fatality rate is 17 percent higher for trucks than passenger vehicles. Unsettlingly, most fatalities in truck accidents are occupants of the cars struck.
The Impact of Work Pressures on Truck Safety
Many safety experts suggest compensating truck drivers per mile driven rather than hours worked can lead to safety compromises. This can incentivize them to overlook essential safety measures, including maintaining appropriate driving speeds, conducting necessary vehicle repairs, and managing fatigue. Such work pressures contribute to approximately 13,000 truck crashes each year.
Besides work pressures, substance abuse is a significant concern in the trucking industry. Both legal and illegal drug use, along with alcohol consumption, factor into an estimated 65,000 trucking accidents annually. The Government Accountability Office found an alarming 22 percent of truck drivers were operating while receiving disability benefits for conditions such as epilepsy, alcohol addiction, or drug dependence.
Industry Changes and Future Risks
In the face of these alarming statistics, many worry that the risk of fatalities from 18-wheeler truck accidents will only increase. The trucking industry has been lobbying Congress to raise the truck weight limit to 97,000 pounds—a significant 20 percent increase from the 80,000-pound limit set in 1982. Furthermore, the industry is pushing to introduce more multi-trailer trucks, effectively doubling the current 53-foot limit in most states. Such changes could lead to increased personal injuries from accidents between trucks and cars.
Protecting Your Rights After an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an 18-wheeler truck accident, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights. Speak to an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney to explore your options and protect your interests. Contact Herman Herman Katz today at 844-943-7626 for a free, no-obligation case review.