The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report that announced that 840 truckers died in 2017. This is a record high that was up from 786 in 2016 and an overall 25 percent increase in the number of fatalities since 2011. This breaks down to an average of 26.8 deaths per 10,000 truckers, which is marked higher than the national average of 3.5 per 10,000 workers across all professions.
Driver error to blame
Most of these deaths are attributable to:
- Fatigued driving: companies sometimes require their drivers to drive longer than is safe and under unsafe conditions.
- Distracted driving: truck drivers are prone to being distracted by their phone, devices and on-board technology.
- Driving too fast: vehicles that are over 50 feet long carrying 80,000 pounds of payload need to be operated with extreme caution.
- Driving under the influence: there has been a 25 percent increase in driving under the influence of non-prescription drugs or alcohol.
- Driving without using a seat belt: 40 percent of the fatalities involve drivers not using their seat belts.
Employers need to take action
Industry experts say there are steps employers can take to better protect employees and others on the road:
- Managing the workload so employees are not encouraged to take risks
- Not contacting drivers when they are behind the wheel
- Creation and strict enforcement of safety protocols
- Installing new safety technology on new trucks like lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and automatic breaking
There are other victims in these accidents too
The other part of the equation here is that truck accidents often involve severe or fatal injuries to drivers in other vehicles. Victims and their families deserve compensation for injury, loss of income, medical expenses as well as pain and suffering for these cataclysmic events. An attorney with experience handling personal injury cases involving trucks can be a real asset in gaining the compensation that victims and their families need.