Commercial trucks are a major cause of deadly accidents on interstates highways across America. In 2016, 3,986 people died in large truck crashes and the numbers have been increasing since. The majority of the victims in these crashes were passengers or drivers in smaller vehicles, or pedestrians and cyclists. Only 17% of these deaths were persons sitting inside the truck due to the enormity of the truck compared to the other vehicles.
Frighteningly, these other cars have no way to defend themselves from these trucks since truckers are peppering the highways at all hours of the day and night. Under pressure to meet their travel deadlines, they often do not take adequate rest breaks. They end up posing a serious safety hazard to the other vehicles on the roads because they are likely to engage in dangerous behaviors while driving.
The problem is especially pronounced for long-haul drivers whose routes require extensive driving over long periods of time, often with lots of unexpected delays impeding their progress. It is on these lengthy trips that span more than 51 miles that 65% of trucking accidents occur according to statistics.
Although there are strict FMCSA rules regulating how many hours truck drivers can legally drive, these laws are not enough to keep the other drivers sharing the roads safe and secure. Issues including driver shortages, economic pressure, bad weather, and long hours staring at hypnotic open roadways contribute to truckers speeding, falling asleep at the wheel and engaging in risky behaviors that put themselves and others at risk.
In particular, one method that truckers are using to try to get their mileage in is driving above the speed limit. This behavior is highly problematic because truckers who speed are much more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors like talking or texting on their cell phones, eating and drinking, personal grooming, completing paperwork and taking their hands off the wheel. As such, they are 69 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal vehicle collision than drivers who obey speed limits according to Ankin Law Office LLC.
All of these risky driving behaviors create serious dangers while driving at safe speeds. However, at excessive speeds, truck drivers are twice as likely to be the cause of a fatal crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding drivers account for 27 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. Between 2015 and 2016, speed-related motor vehicle fatalities rose by four percent.
Even more worrisome is that most truckers say that not only are they very comfortable driving above the speed limit. Without motivation to change, the problem does not seem likely to improve.