It’s no secret that truck crashes and fatalities have been on the rise in recent years. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,761 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes in the United States in 2018 alone—a 9% increase from the year before.
And, unfortunately, it looks like this trend is only going to continue in 2022. Here are six reasons why experts believe this is the case.
1. Increase in Miles Driven
The number of miles driven by large trucks has increased significantly in recent years.
Between 2010 and 2017, the number of miles driven by large trucks increased by 21%. And, as anyone who has ever been on the highway knows, more cars on the road generally leads to more accidents. This is especially true when those cars are large semi-trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds.
2. Shortage of Qualified Drivers
The American Trucking Association estimates that there are currently around 60,000 open truck driver positions in the United States. And, as the economy continues to rebound from the pandemic, that number is only going to grow.
The problem is that it takes a lot of time and money to train a truck driver—time that many trucking companies simply don’t have right now. As a result, many inexperienced and under-qualified drivers are getting behind the wheel of these massive vehicles—and that’s a recipe for disaster.
3. More Distracted Drivers
According to AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, 7 out of 10 people admit to using their phones while driving—and that number goes up to 8 out of 10 when you’re talking about millennials.
What’s even more alarming is that 1 out of 3 people say they’ve used their phones for social media while driving—and 1 out of 4 say they’ve taken photos or videos. With so many drivers distracted by their phones, it’s no wonder accidents are on the rise.
4. Increase in Drug Use
A report released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that the number of truck drivers who tested positive for drugs has increased steadily over the past decade—from 8% in 2009 to 15% in 2018.
Of particular concern are amphetamines, which can help drivers stay awake for long periods of time but can also lead to impaired judgment and poor decision-making skills. Not surprisingly, amphetamines were found in nearly 10% of all positive drug tests last year.
5. More Extreme Weather Conditions
From hurricanes and tornadoes to blizzards and ice storms, severe weather conditions have become more common in recent years—and that has led to an increase in accidents involving large trucks.
In fact, according to NHTSA data, nearly 20% of all large truck accidents between 2010 and 2014 were weather-related. As climate change continues to make extreme weather events more common, we can expect this trend to continue.
6. Crumbling Infrastructure
According to data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), nearly one-third of all public roads in the United States are in need of repair—and that number jumps to nearly half when you’re talking about rural roads.
Poor road conditions can lead to a number of problems for truck drivers, including flat tires, blown-out axles, and lost loads. And, as anyone who has ever been involved in an accident knows, even a minor fender bender can be costly—both financially and emotionally.
Truck Drivers Have Tough Jobs Keeping Others and Themselves Safe
As you can see, there are a number of factors contributing to the increase in truck accidents and fatalities. Some, like the shortage of qualified drivers, are beyond our control. But others, like distracted driving and poor road conditions, are entirely preventable, and it’s often up to big rig drivers to use the defensive driving techniques that save lives when other motorists aren’t.
It’s really up to everyone—truckers and non-truckers alike—to do their part to make the roads safer. Only then can we hope to reverse this troubling trend. At J&A Fleet Maintenance, we are attempting to do our part by offering you and your fleets the very best in maintenance, prevention, and repair. We aim to do it while offering you the best price and service in the region. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.