February 16, 2017
Of all registered vehicles in the United States, 12.5% are commercial trucks. The maximum allowable gross weight for a truck on the US Interstate Highway System is 80,000 pounds. The average car in the United States weighs 4,000 pounds. Thus, commercial trucks can weigh 20 times more than the average vehicle operated by a driver on the American roadways.
In 2016, approximately 500,000 large trucks and commercial vehicles were involved in accidents. Over 100,000 people sustained serious injuries in these half-a-million truck accidents. In 2014, over 3,600 people in the United States died in accidents that involved trucks or commercial vehicles. A disturbing trend is that the number of fatalities has increased by 16% over the past five years. Simply stated, this is an alarming increase in the number of fatal truck accidents.
Experts do not expect the number of truck accident deaths to decrease in the future. In fact, the percentage of trucks on the roadways continues to increase each year.
Many safety groups have called for the United States Department of Transportation to increase safety regulations to reduce the alarming number of increasing fatal accidents involving trucks. Pennsylvania regularly has one of the highest numbers of fatal truck accidents each year in the United States. Large trucks are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than passenger vehicles. In 2010, most fatal truck accidents occurred in rural areas (68%), during the daytime (66%), and on weekdays (78%). About 27% of all truck drivers involved in fatal truck accidents had at least one prior speeding conviction. One person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes. In 98% of all truck accidents, the driver of the other vehicle is killed.
Most truck drivers are paid by the mile, so there is an incentive for them to drive as fast as possible. The common public perception is that trucking companies place profits over safety and push their drivers to drive more miles at faster and faster speeds with less rest and little concern for safety.
In 2006, over 3,000,000 trucks were inspected, and over 200,000 drivers received violations. Out of service violations and orders are the most serious. These typically involve fatigue, excessive driving hours in a specific time period, drug/alcohol abuse, the lack of an up-to-date commercial driver license, and improper age of a truck driver. In 2003, over 550,000 trucks were driven on American roadways in violation of federal and state safety regulations. When a truck driver receives an out-of-service order, that driver and truck are considered a high safety risk to all motorists.
Despite state and federal rules and regulations, many truck drivers and companies are not safe. The average American automobile operator should drive very cautiously around commercial trucks. Your life may be at stake. If you've been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, contact Whiting Law for a free consultation.