Every accident creates victims, but few are as traumatic as when a passenger vehicle is hit by a commercial truck. These behemoth vehicles leave behind massive destruction, and the most frustrating fact is that many of these incidents are avoidable. Here is what everyone needs to know about issues within the trucking industry that may put them at risk.
Shortage of Drivers
The trucking industry is desperate for more drivers and, as a result, the ones on company payrolls often feel the stress. Current estimates state that there are almost 48,000 driver vacancies at the moment, and it is estimated the number could be as high as 175,000 vacancies by the year 2024 if nothing changes.
There are many former drivers that no longer want to deal with the stress of federal regulations, busy highways, and time away from family. These factors, unfortunately, pressures some to take chances by working longer hours than they should or to speed through their routes in an attempt to complete more work during their shift.
Irresponsible Driving Behavior
Common accident causes include speeding, tired drivers who create fake log books and distracted drivers who text or talk on the phone while behind the wheel. All are risky behaviors, but the behavior that has proven to be the most dangerous is drivers’ lying about their health to avoid losing their jobs. Diagnoses of vision problems, respiratory issues, and heart conditions are frequently withheld from trucking companies.
A single investigation into the cause of truck accidents around the country discovered that a startling 400 accidents that took place in 2013 and 2014 involved drivers with undeclared medical conditions. In one incident, a driver who had just been warned by his physician about sleep apnea caused an accident after falling asleep at the wheel.
Minimal Training Time
The numbers differ from state to state, but in order to obtain a license to drive a car, people must spend 10 to 20 hours in class, 50 to 70 hours behind the wheel, and six months holding a permit. To get a CDL license and haul hazardous material, one must pass a seven-week course, pass a test, and provide proof of identity.
Many trucking companies are attempting to improve highway safety, but some of their efforts still need some tweaking. The two main changes have been in the monitoring of drivers as they are on the road and in attempts to prevent drivers from recording false information in their log books.
Some trucking companies mount cameras in their trucks to record the actions of their own drivers. These are often paired with GPS tracking systems that record vehicle speed, acceleration rates, and any near-collisions. Unfortunately, most systems do not give enough real-time information and only store the data in the onboard system so authorities can review it if an accident occurs.
Electronic logs help to reduce the ability of the driver to falsify data, but they are not infallible. Some tricks help drivers to continue their bad habits. These steps include pulling fuses so the information is not recorded, logging in as another driver, and logging out while sitting in traffic or when operating at lower speeds.
More traffic on the road and tired and unhealthy drivers behind the wheel mean that the accident risk is still too high. Luckily, driver logs, cameras, and GPS systems help victims and their attorneys to learn the truth about these incidents.
At the office of D Chadwick Calvert, we provide support for those that have been victims. Our office works hard to make drivers and trucking companies responsible for their behavior and to help the victims rebuild their lives. Contact us to discuss your case to see whether we can help you.