Accidents involving a semi-truck, garbage trucks, light trucks, commercial vehicles, and so on, are especially catastrophic because of the sheer size of the vehicles involved. However, as with all accidents, in theory, at least, truck accidents are all preventable, and in practicality, most of them can indeed be prevented from ever happening in the first place.
Accidents are a result of negligence, big or small, and thus by eliminating negligence from the equation, the chances of accidents can also be cut down drastically. Thus, in theory, at least, truck crashes and the resultant deaths can be prevented and in this article, we’ll discuss the risks associated with truck accidents (injuries, deaths, and property damage), some important stats to gain some perspective, and tricks and actions that can help us prevent truck accidents in the first place.
Why Are Truck Crashes More Likely To Be Fatal?
The laws of physics dictate that when massive objects collide at high speeds, the impact will be just as devastating. This is because the weight and speed of a vehicle are directly related to the momentum of the vehicle, and for trucks, the momentum is staggering. A head-on collision (in a commercial truck accident) even under the speed limit can cause a fatality, let alone the intensity of the impact at highway speeds.
Plus, you also need to factor in the sheer disparity between the sizes of the two colliding vehicles – a truck is much bigger than a regular passenger car or a motorcycle. Thus in the event of a crash, the worst part of the collision (for head-on, side, or rear-end collisions) will be taken by the smaller vehicle (and the vehicle driver) while the truck itself will only face a fraction of force in return. Of course, this does not, in any way, mean that commercial truck drivers are immune to the dangers of a crash.
Common types of physical injuries in such cases include but are not limited to traumatic brain injuries, severe injuries to the spinal cord, neck injury, internal organ damage, broken bones, muscle damage, amputations, paralysis, death (from fatal injury), and so on. Also, note that injuries to motorcycle riders are much tougher because motorcycle safety is inadequate in general in the event of motorcycle accidents.
Stats For Truck Accident Fatalities
According to the statistical data presented by the authorities in Ohio, the instances of fatal crashes have only gone up in the past five years. Compared to 1,054 fatalities in automobile accidents in 2016, the deaths were reported at 1,154 in 2020, a bigger number than five years prior. Plus, also consider that the traffic density fell in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 and 2020 – despite this, the number has only gone up, much to the alarm of experts.
Of these traffic accident fatalities, a significant fraction of fatalities was reported for accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, these numbers for motor vehicle crash deaths were reported as follows:
- 130 deaths in 2016
- 170 fatalities in 2017
- 162 lives lost in 2018
- 152 breaths silenced in 2019
- 132 lives claimed in 2020
Thus, it would be an understatement to call truck accidents (and commercial motor vehicle accidents) serious – the number of fatalities is simply alarming!
Preventing Truck Accidents #1: Countering Distractions While Driving
The first, and the most important strategy to prevent truck accidents (or for commercial vehicles), is avoiding distractions on the road. Here are some handy and proven distraction-free driving tips (for all parties involved) that will help you prevent fatal crashes with trucks:
No Cell Phone While Driving
The biggest distraction on the road is the cell phone (and other electronic devices). For truckers, there is a strict schedule every day which means that they are always in a rush. This leads them to be a bit careless on the road, especially with their mobile phones. Personal and professional calls behind the wheel are a major no-no. If someone values road safety, they’ll know not to risk things.
However, fleet managers, if they don’t have adequate fleet tracking systems, are bound to call their drivers for updates. The same also applies to passenger vehicle drivers who too can get distracted and thus fail to react in time to avoid a collision. There is no such thing as multitasking when one of the tasks is driving – if you’re behind the wheel (for both novice drivers and experts), your attention should be undivided.
Talking Can Wait
Chatting with other passengers is just as bad as calling or texting someone on the phone. Remember that even a split-second’s negligence can be enough to cause a serious accident. It is best to keep the other occupants busy with something, if they are kids, you can use fun activities to keep them off your back. This also applies to truckers who may be driving with their coworkers – just hold the talking until you’re done driving, don’t take any risks.
Don’t Drive If You’re Drowsy
Drowsy driving is not the same as distracted driving but it is related, as long as your mind is not completely alert about what’s happening around you, there is no way to safeguard yourself against the dangers that lie ahead. If you’re feeling drowsy, don’t drive, period (same/worse applies to drunk driving).
Drivers nodding off or falling asleep behind the wheel is not a rare occurrence in the USA, according to one estimate, almost 37 percent of drivers did so in their driving history. The best way to avoid drowsy sleeping is to get enough sleep, not to drive when you’re feeling tired (get a cab instead or ask someone else to drive), or just to pull over (off-road), take a power nap, and then continue.
If you’re battling to stay awake behind the wheel, that’s not a good sign – don’t risk it!
Limit The Number Of Passengers In Your Car
One way to ensure that passenger vehicle drivers don’t get distracted that often is to minimize the number of passengers in your vehicle. Well, three’s a crowd, right? It is if you’re just a novice, starting with your driving routine. It is a pretty widespread practice for most newbies.
Consider this: if you’re driving to the nearby grocery store, to get a couple of things, you can do that on your own too – no need to get the whole squad involved. The fewer the people, the less the distractions; the same also applies to driving on highways.
This is more of a preemptive thing, of course, but even if you do have a couple of people with you in the car, you must keep your mind foxed sharply on the road and not elsewhere. But you need to take things one step at a time, only when you learn to drive with discipline, on your own, will you be able to take things onward with passengers and disturbances.
Just remember to keep your mind stress-free when you drive.
No Eating Or Drinking From Behind The Wheel
Okay, this may seem like what old-fashioned parents would say to their children, but we can’t help but see that they have a point. Waiting and drinking don’t cut down the hours but they are heavy distractions for drivers because once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
Even the most skilled and sharp drivers will lose their concentration if they bust themselves with dining while driving. Instead, you should manage your time better and get things done in a meaningful order, i.e. eat when it’s time to eat, drive when it’s time to drive.
Patience is indeed a virtue, and it is a lifesaver for people in such situations.
Most truck drivers like to keep their food in one hand and the steering wheel in the other (some don’t even bother with that much) because they’re overworked and heavily burdened. This means that their schedule overlaps at points where it shouldn’t and thus driving time also becomes earing time.
But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that people always have the option to pull over and eat, and then resume driving. Of course, if you have extremely tight deadlines to meet with no respite, this may not be very practical but still doable.
Preventing Truck Accidents #2: Countering Negligence Elsewhere
Other areas where the parties involved can make improvements are:
- Negligence during the manufacturing process
- Recklessness on part of state/city/government officials in ensuring safe roads (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation, etc.)
- Negligence on part of a maintenance crew who overlooked small details, i.e. checking air brakes, etc.
- Recklessness on part of the trucking company for hiring a driver who was known (if they were) to be negligent on the road
- Negligence on part of the truck owner
- Not wearing seat belts
We shared how truck accidents can be especially dangerous, how they have caused numerous deaths in Ohio, and how avoiding negligence can help you avoid a catastrophic accident. All accidents are avoidable with just a little care. However, if you are ever involved in one, feel free to contact Babin Law in Columbus; a truck accident attorney from our firm will not only offer legal representation (against responsible parties) but also fight for your rights!