With so much of our commerce dependent upon trucks for operation, it is no surprise that so many truck accidents result in severe injuries and death every year. Truckers often get injured in these crashes. However, most of the deaths that occur as the result of truck accidents are suffered by occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in the collision.
Truck Driver Death Rate Compared to Other Workers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures how dangerous an industry is, based on the number of deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. In 2018, truck driving was listed as the deadliest major industry in the United States, with 28 deaths per 100,000 workers.
This is not to say that there are not more dangerous jobs out there. Those working in industries such as logging, fishing, and roofing all suffer higher death rates. However, truck dring is the most hazardous among professions that employ such a large portion of the population.
Passenger Vehicle Deaths in Truck Accidents
Passenger vehicles include any vehicle other than 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, cement trucks, tractor-trailers, and coal trucks. Passenger vehicles may include your car, pickup truck, and SUV. Up to 74% of all fatal passenger vehicle deaths involved a collision with a large truck.
Even in cases of nonfatal injury, you are more likely to be injured if you are an occupant in a passenger vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration noted that at least 100,000 injuries occurred annually to occupants in passenger vehicles.
Conditions That Cause Deadly Trucking Accidents
One of the most tragic aspects of truck accidents is that they are usually preventable. Many types of truck accidents are caused by:
- Sleepy truck drivers
- Distracted drivers
Mechanical Defects in Deadly Trucking Accidents
Although passenger vehicle drivers may often skip basic vehicle checks, truck drivers failing to check their vehicles can have deadly consequences. Before getting behind the wheel, all truck drivers should run through a list of safety checks. Truck drivers should check the brakes, tires, and steering wheels of their truck. In newer trucks, they should also check the complex electrical systems to ensure they are functioning efficiently.
Failure to complete these checks may result in accidents, which can have deadly consequences for truckers and passenger vehicle occupants.
Cargo Weight Factors in Deadly Truck Accidents
It is common for large trucks to weigh between 35 and 80 tons. By comparison, the average weight of a passenger vehicle is around four tons. This higher weight plays a role in the number of deadly truck accidents that occur every year. With such a heavy weight, trucks take longer to stop.
When a vehicle pulls out in front of a large truck suddenly, the truck driver may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid an accident. If a truck driver is sleepy and their reaction time is slower, the longer stopping time can result in an accident.
Time and Labor Shortages Contribute to Truck Accidents
The truck driving industry needs skilled workers willing to travel long distances performing dangerous work. As a result, the industry constantly struggles with having enough drivers to fit their needs. With a shortage of operators, the available truck drivers are on a constant time constraint. Trying to get to a destination as quickly as possible can result in speeding and a loss of sleep, both of which can contribute to deadly collisions.
Legal Rights After a Deadly Truck Accident
If a loved one has been the victim of a deadly truck accident, you may be able to seek compensation to cover:
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Medical bills
- Emotional support costs
- Loss of spousal or parental services
- Loss of inheritance
- Punitive damages
You should consider speaking to a truck accident lawyer immediately. A competent lawyer can help you decide what type of legal action to take to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.