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True Confessions of Long-Haul Truckers

Trucking is a $642 billion industry in the U.S. America’s roads are busy 24 hours a day with trucks delivering nearly 70 percent of the nation’s freight. Our economy and our families need the trucking industry.

What we don’t need are the serious accidents involving semi trucks. Large trucks account for about 8 percent of vehicles involved in fatal crashes and are associated with about 12 percent of deaths in traffic accidents, according to the DOT. In 2012, police responded to 317,000 large-truck crashes in the U.S. The estimated cost of truck and bus crashes to the U.S. economy that year was $99 billion.

We all know that long-haul trucking is a demanding job, one that takes truckers away from their families and comfortable beds and requires them to stay alert for hours on end, through all kinds of weather, maneuvering a monstrous 80,000-pound rig.

Recently the CDC released data from the National Survey of US Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury which includes some information you probably don’t know — and will be disconcerted to learn — about truck drivers.

What Truckers Revealed…

CDC surveyors conducted face-to-face interviews of truck drivers at 32 truck stops along interstate highways across the United States. Here are some of the key findings:

  • More than 1 in 3 truck drivers have had a serious truck crash during their career, and 1 out of every 8 has had 2 or more.
  • 24% of truckers reported that in the 7 days prior to the interview they had had a “near miss,” and 12% reported having had two or more near misses within the week.
  • 34% of the interviewed truckers admitted to having nodded off or fallen asleep while driving.
  • Being cited for a moving violation is not uncommon for truckers: 17% reported receiving at least one such citation in the last 12 months, and 5% said they had received two or more.
  • An estimated 14% of long-haul truck drivers admitted they do not use a seat belt on every trip.
  • Long-haul truck drivers who reported not wearing seat belts also tended to engage in other risky behaviors, such as speeding and committing moving violations.
  • The truckers who didn’t buckle up were likely to work for an employer that did not have a written workplace safety program.

Dr. Stephanie Pratt, coordinator of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center for Motor Vehicle Safety said, “The smartest strategy for overall safety is to prevent truck crashes from happening in the first place. Employers can help prevent crashes and injuries through comprehensive driver safety programs that address other known risk factors such as drowsy and distracted driving.”

Preventing Large Truck Collisions

A March 3 Press Release from the CDC outlines what they think could be done to reduce the risk of big rig crashes, injuries, and deaths. Their suggestions:

  • States can help increase seat belt use by truck drivers through high-visibility enforcement of seat belt laws by state troopers and motor carrier safety inspectors.
  • Employers can establish and enforce company safety policies, including belt-use requirements for truck drivers and passengers as well as bans on text-messaging and use of handheld phones.
  • Employers can educate truck drivers about ways to avoid distracted and drowsy driving.
  • Engineering and design changes that provide increased comfort and range of motion and allow adjustments for diverse body types might increase use of seat belts by truck drivers.

At McNeely Stephenson, we have helped many people who were injured in truck accidents. One case involved a client who was a passenger in the front seat of a vehicle that was struck by a United Dairy Farmers truck. During discovery, we found out that the driver had multiple moving violations, a fact that may have helped persuade the jury to deliver a $2 million verdict for the badly injured plaintiff. If you or your loved one has been involved in an Indiana accident caused by a negligent truck driver, call Mike Stephenson at 1-855-206-2555.