Why Commercial Truck Accidents Are on the Rise

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The reasons why commercial truck accidents are on the rise vary significantly, but human error is responsible for 90 percent of accidents. 2019 saw the highest number of truck accident deaths of the previous 30 years. The deaths reported totaled 885 truck drivers and truck passengers. That’s the highest figure since 1988 when the NHTSA reported 911 truck deaths.


That surprises many experts because advances in automated safety systems were expected to reduce accident totals. Nevertheless, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a rise in deaths caused by truck accidents for the fourth consecutive year.


The passengers and pedestrians affected by truck accidents account for even more deaths because nobody walks away from a truck accident unscathed. The agency revealed that 4,678 people died in 2018 as a result of truck-accident injuries, and 4,369 died in 2017 [source].


Some reasons for the rise in commercial truck accidents include:


  • Unpredictable weather conditions
  • Driver fatigue
  • Expanded online shopping


Evolving Shopping Habits


The frenetic pace of business and industry are partly to blame for increases in accident rates. Delivery service drivers especially face pressure to make on-time deliveries, which can create pressure across the entire supply chain.


With more people choosing to shop online instead of frequenting brick and mortar stores, many companies are having to expand their delivery service. For some companies this means hiring more truck drivers while others are choosing to deploy bigger trucks.


More contributing factors include the fact that medium-duty vehicles are driving more miles each year, and many fleets are increasing their trucks to handle the increased demand. That means hiring less experienced drivers, who are subject to greater risks of accidents in pressure-cooker situations.


Commercial Fleets Expand Safety Equipment


Commercial fleets are utilizing more safety technology, helping to minimize driver error and increase overall fleet safety performance. The consensus of experts is that accidents are continuing to rise where larger trucks are involved, but smaller truck accident rates are holding steady.


Safety technology doesn’t always work to correct the driving of a big rig. The tech must be backed up with driver training. Today’s driver training programs can instill a new mindset in drivers to behave professionally and make safety a top priority.


The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security and the American Automobile Association Foundation have teamed up to adopt new truck safety regulations that might help going forward. Recommendations of installing monitoring devices could prevent up to 500 deaths and 77,000 crashes. Drivers — both commercial and private — claim to want the tech, but there is a lag before the equipment becomes the status quo.


Driver Fatigue


Technology can only take us so far. Until all vehicles are self-driving, commercial trucking companies will continue to rely on their staff of truck drivers. In addition to the rising popularity of online shopping, many people are making use new delivery services such as:


  • Grocery delivery
  • Clothing delivery
  • Dry cleaning delivery


These new subscription services often utilize existing commercial trucking companies. If hiring more drivers isn’t an option, driver schedules will be adjusted to cover longer routes to accommodate. An overworked driver may have difficulty getting enough rest between shifts.


Drivers are required to have at least 10 hours off duty before driving but there’s no way to monitor someone’s personal life to ensure they get eight hours of sleep. 30% of Americans are only sleeping for six hours or less.


A big part of our country’s work ethic is getting your job done at the expense of your own health. Some truck drivers resort to using amphetamines to stay awake through their shifts.


What to Do After a Truck Accident


Truck accidents are frequently caused by driver fatigue, which takes skill and focused investigation to prove in court. Finding the truck driver at fault greatly increases your potential compensation or injuries. Your lawyer can discuss how to move forward.


It’s important to see an attorney immediately to begin building a case if you’re involved in a truck-related accident. Truck drivers generally have ample insurance coverage and expert legal representation, and you need the same if you’re going up against a well-funded transportation company. You can find out how much your claim is worth based on medical expenses, lost work time, and other actionable claims.




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