Because they’re essential to the economy, there are almost as many commercial truck drivers as there are police officers. Statistically, therefore, accidents involving commercial freight vehicles are certain to occur every day. But why do truck driving accidents happen, and what can you do if you get into one?
How Many Truck Driving Accidents Happen Each Year?
Because trucks are large and powerful, they are more likely than other vehicles to cause injury or death. Drivers pulling long, overnight shifts or driving past their quotas may be tired or impaired. These unfortunate truths have meant that a disproportionate number of all crashes each year involve large, multi-wheeled vehicles.
While the numbers vary from year to year, the number of drivers in the United States has increased slightly over the past decade. While various factors may influence the number of traffic incidents that happen each year, the current trend indicates an increase in collisions with a corresponding increase in motorists.
In 2018 in the U.S., over 414,000 accidents involving a truck caused damage to at least one party’s property. In the same year, 4,164 people died in crashes involving at least one commercial or private freight vehicle.
Unfortunately, Arizona has some of the most dangerous stretches of road in the country, and around 700 drivers die each year. Around 100 of these involve a commercial vehicle. In the same period, approximately 12,000 people experience injuries — a figure much higher than you would expect, given the state’s population of around 6.5 million people.
Who Gets Hurt In Truck Driving Accidents?
Though it isn’t unheard of for freight drivers to sustain injuries during a collision, the vast majority of these incidents cause harm to other people or their property. In 2020, out of 4,014 total freight-related deaths, 68% were the occupants of passenger vehicles, while 16% were pedestrians, motorcyclists, or cyclists. Only the remaining 15% were commercial drivers. When an accident involved only two vehicles, a shocking 97% of fatalities were private passengers.
Not surprisingly, injury statistics reflect the same general trends as death statistics. In 2019, truck drivers sustained only 28% of reported injuries from accidents involving a commercial rig. Though this percentage is higher than the deaths they’ve suffered, commercial operators still haven’t come close to sustaining the number of injuries their passenger counterparts have.
When Do Truck Driving Accidents Happen?
Collisions are more likely to occur during the day than at night. Since most motorists are on the road during the day, this statistic doesn’t tell us whether it’s more dangerous to drive during one time or the other. It may be that the amount of daylight doesn’t have much to do with the likelihood of an accident.
According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, the months between June and October are the most dangerous of the year. This is probably because more recreational motorists take to the roads during the more pleasant months of the year. While inclement weather creates more hazards than clear weather, fewer motorists in the colder months mean fewer collisions.
You might think that most collisions involving a commercial vehicle would take place on an interstate, but this isn’t the case. In most parts of the country, more occur on smaller roadways and minor highways. Similarly, most accidents happened in rural areas, rather than in more densely populated urban areas.
Why Do Truck Driving Accidents Happen?
Most collisions happen because an operator driver faces a distraction or cannot see the other vehicle approaching. A smaller number of incidents result from extremely reckless behavior, such as drinking or using narcotics. These cases are easier to prove than those involving more subtle factors.
All truckers, for example, adhere to strict schedules, but they may try to cheat to achieve more shipments in a shorter period. Sometimes, an employer will pressure drivers to forgo safe trucking practices in order to save time. This is unlawful and negligent behavior.
In rare cases, freight companies hire employees without checking for a valid license. This is also a violation that shows negligence. If the person who injured you was cheating their schedule or wasn’t properly trained, you may be entitled to compensation.
Shipping companies are supposed to carefully maintain their vehicles so they can sustain the long hauls they needed to undergo. Unfortunately, not all companies adhere to these standards. A faulty brake pad or belt can make a big vehicle more unwieldy, increasing the risk of an accident significantly.
Though these incidents aren’t always the driver’s fault, they still show negligence. If you’ve been a victim of someone else’s negligence on the road, you should deserve the appropriate compensation.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
As a passenger vehicle driver, you need to protect yourself by driving defensively. You can’t change whether a commercial vehicle operator decides to make a sudden turn or advance, but you can keep a safe distance to give yourself time to react to the unexpected.
Most driver’s license manuals urge you to keep around three to four seconds between you and the person ahead of you. If the person ahead is pulling a semi-trailer, consider keeping even more distance. When traveling on busy highways where it isn’t practical to keep such space, try to keep careful watch over what the truck operator is doing. As soon as you can, get out of the way and reassert your distance cushion.
When Should You Get Legal Help?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may have been the victim of someone else’s recklessness or negligence. Proving this, however, can be tricky, and only an expert in freight vehicle collisions can help you compile all the evidence you need to prove your case.
At MDK Law Group, we know truck driving accidents. We’ll analyze your situation and make sure the facts are on your side. For the best legal team in Arizona, contact MDK Law Group today for a free consultation.