Rising number of fatal truck accidents poses a threat to CT drivers

Fatal accidents involving large trucks are increasing as the economy rebounds; sadly, many of these accidents may occur due to preventable factors.

Many people in Stamford have seen recent headlines about large truck accidents involving mechanical errors, intoxication, distraction, fatigue or similar factors. These accidents occur frequently; CNBC News reports that large truck accidents claim 11 lives each day. Annually, 4,000 fatalities and 100,000 injuries occur in accidents involving large trucks. Sadly, data indicates these deadly accidents are on the rise.

From 2009 to 2012, fatalities resulting from passenger car accidents declined; so did the number of trucks on the roadways and the number of highway miles that those trucks traveled. Still, fatal truck accidents grew 18 percent during the same time. This growth in truck accidents presents a substantial threat to other motorists who share the roads with these vehicles.

Accident causes, contributors

Increased economic activity is one frequently cited reason for the increase in accidents; trucks are making more deliveries, and drivers are facing greater pressure to meet strict deadlines. However, a number of more direct and preventable factors may contribute to many of these accidents. These factors include:

  • Roadworthiness - many trucks or drivers may simply not be fit to share the roads with others. In 2012, for example, 171,150 drivers and 2,145,733 trucks were taken out of service for accumulating too many violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration policies.
  • Congestion - new hours-of-service regulations designed to reduce truck driver fatigue also result in more trucks sharing the roadways when traffic peaks during rush hours. Limitations to total truck driver hours may also result in more truck drivers sharing the road.
  • Turnover - the demanding nature of a trucking schedule and the relatively low occupational pay may lead to high turnover rates, and inexperienced drivers may be at a greater risk for accidents.

Additionally, some accidents may involve outright negligence on the part of trucking companies or drivers. Driver distraction is one significant problem that may still occur in Connecticut, despite state laws banning the most dangerous distractions.

According to NBC News, one recent observational investigation conducted in Connecticut found that some truck drivers text or use handheld cellphones despite the state's legal bans. Connecticut authorities note that catching these drivers can be difficult, since a high vantage point is necessary to see into a truck cab. This means that many truck drivers may get away with reckless behaviors.

An ongoing threat

According to CNBC, experts are working to develop technology that can help prevent large trucks accidents. However, until this technology is operational, these accidents may only become more common. One trucking industry group projects that the industry will need to continue hiring roughly 100,000 new drivers each year until 2025 to keep up with demand. Given current driver shortages and turnover rates, many of the new drivers may be dangerously inexperienced.

When people are injured in accidents that occur because of a company or driver's actions, they may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. However, the statute of limitations for pursuing compensation in Connecticut is only two years. Given this timeframe and the devastating consequences that truck accidents can have, anyone who has been hurt in one should consider meeting with an attorney to discuss the available options.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury