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Why are truck driver fatalities reaching record highs?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2020 | trucking accident

Long hours, poor sleeping schedules and accommodations, adverse weather and road conditions, truck safety and mechanical concerns, and other perils are constant hazards of the road for truck drivers. Depending on their career choice, commercial truck drivers face constant adversity from the categories mentioned above, while other challenges are self-inflicted.

The numbers indicate that recreational drug use and alcohol consumption is growing among truckers and the United States workforce as a whole. The United States Labor Bureau found that overdose deaths caused by substance abuse rose by 25% in 2017 – and that one in seven commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants cannot pass a drug test.

Fatalities are rising

On-the-job deaths rose by nearly 7% for truckers in 2017, totaling 840 fatalities. Since 2011, trucker deaths have increased by 25%. These sobering numbers reach across all areas of the industry. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that heavy-duty trucking fatalities rose by 3% in 2017.

Blame distracted driving

The perils of distracted driving don’t just touch the mother with screaming children in the back seat, or the teenage driver posting on Instagram. Distracted driving doesn’t discriminate.

With so much weight propelling the truck forward, It’s not easy for a commercial vehicle to stop. Slick road conditions due to inclement weather, distracted driving, drowsy driving and drug use lead to many truck crashes. Two of these are occupational hazards (slick road conditions, drowsy driving). You can blame drowsy driving on industry expectations that lead to over-worked drivers desperately trying to meet shipment deadlines. 

The other two issues, distracted driving, and drug use are solely the responsibility of the driver. These actions are avoidable, as is deciding not to wear a seatbelt. 38% of fatal truck crashes included a truck driver who was not wearing a seat belt.

Choices are available

As drivers, some crashes are our fault, but others are not and require representation to seek just compensation. The unfortunate reality is that these accidents can lead to severe injury and other devastating consequences like lost wages, medical debt and physical hardships.