The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that in 2019, 5% of all registered vehicles were commercial trucks. However, collisions with these large vehicles accounted for 11% of deaths and 22% of injuries in 2019.
While truck drivers are not always at fault in a crash, there are many reasons why a higher number of collisions involve big rigs.
Truck drivers have deadlines to meet, which causes them to drive faster so they arrive on time. The danger in this situation is that commercial trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles, making them more difficult the maneuver or stop at high speeds. Taking turns too fast or not stopping quick enough can cause the truck to overturn or collide with other vehicles.
The demand for rapid delivery not only causes drivers to exceed safe speeds but also pushes the drivers to work the maximum number of hours allowed. Drivers spend most of their day on the road, often multiple days in a row, which leads to exhaustion. While federal limitations restrict the number of consecutive hours a driver is behind the wheel, they are only required to stop for a 30-minute break after driving eight hours and can go up to 11 hours a day before stopping to sleep. These extensive expectations push drivers to the limit and may contribute to falling asleep at the wheel.
Many commercial truck drivers own their vehicles and must perform routine maintenance. High costs and lack of free time prevent many drivers from keeping their vehicles in good condition. Improper maintenance may cause blown tires, worn brakes and broken tail lights, contributing to vehicle collisions.
When drivers take proper care of both themselves and their trucks, they can decrease collisions and keep everyone safe.