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Dangerous Load: Examining the Spike in U.S. Truck Accident Deaths

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Trucking continues to be the most popular job in the country, particularly in states like California and Texas. In 2016, the number of truck drivers in the country reached 3.5 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s understandable, as about 71% of products moved in America involves trucking. And according to the American Trucking Associations, the industry needs almost a million more drivers to keep up with rising demand.

Although this job seems one of the more promising careers that wouldn’t disappear any time soon, it is also one of the most dangerous in the United States.

Trucking Dangers

Over 4,889 fatal crashes in the United States in 2017 involved large trucks and buses, according to the latest data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The agency pointed out in their fact sheet about truck fatalities that this figure is a 9% increase from the previous year. It’s also a 42% jump from 2009’s 3,432 truck and bus crash-related deaths. Injuries related to truck and bus crashes saw an increase of about 4% from 2016 to 2017.

According to data gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most of these deaths are passenger vehicle occupants. But truck drivers are also at great risk. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that there were more than 918 driver fatalities in 2016, which was significantly higher than any of the other entries. Farmers came in second at 260 fatalities and grounds maintenance workers third at 217.

What makes this profession risky?

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are often paid by the miles they travel to deliver a load. The BLS states that companies usually have a rate of $0.28 to 0.40 per mile.  As such, truckers need to cover large distances to make ends meet.

Drivers are also given strict delivery times. This may cause them to get only a few hours of sleep or none at all just to meet the demand.

Poor food options from bus stops may not give them the nutrients they need as well, to sustain them through the night. And there’s also the physically demanding task of loading and unloading goods to their trailers.

These all contribute to truck driver fatigue, which may cause a driver to respond slower to objects on the road, make poor driving decisions, or worse, fall asleep on the wheel, according to the National Academies Press.

While over one in 25 people in the U.S. experience drowsy driving, it’s significantly more dangerous when a truck driver dozes off while on the road. A 40-ton eighteen-wheeler pushing 65 to 70 miles per hour on a Los Angeles freeway can cause significant damage to a 1.39-ton car and the people inside it in the event of a collision.

If you’ve been injured by a drowsy truck driver, it’s important to have a truck accident lawyer on speed dial to ensure that you get medical and financial compensation as soon as possible.

Trucking contributes so much to the American economy. But it can’t be ignored that truck accidents are significant problems in the country, too. The FMCSA recently released a checklist for drivers to follow to avoid fatigue. Furthermore, researchers around the world are also doing studies to learn what constitutes driver fatigue, its causes and effects,  and how it can be avoided. You can never be too safe on the road.

Have an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer on Your Side

If you get into a truck accident in Los Angeles and its neighboring cities, Haffner Law’s team of litigators will help you get compensation for the damages you incurred. We’ll help you file a personal injury claim and provide aggressive representation in court. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that your case yields a favorable outcome.

Contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER and 213-514-5681 today for a free case review from one of our experienced attorneys.

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