We spend a lot of time talking about the dangers that commercial vehicles and 18-wheeles pose to drivers. Those dangers are real: the sheer size of a big rig is enough to turn any accident into a fatal one. As a recent survey shows, however, truck drivers may have something to worry about, too – increased numbers of distracted drivers who are starting to re-enter the roadways.
The Travelers Cos. released its annual Risk Index on March 31, 2021, which is the result of a survey sent to drivers every January. The survey asks drivers to answer questions related to risky driving behavior they took part in during the previous year. The results of the study reflect how dangerous the roads of America were even with fewer vehicles on them during the height of the pandemic lockdowns.
The data from the study reveals that one out of every four drivers (1,001 people responded to the survey) believes that the roads of America were safer during the pandemic lockdowns than in previous years. However, a large number of people who answered the study reported that they used their mobile devices in many different ways while driving, including the following:
- Texting or emailing (26%, up from 19% pre-pandemic)
- Checking social media (20%, up from 13% pre-pandemic)
- Taking videos and pictures (19%, up from 10% pre-pandemic)
- Shopping online (17%, up from 8% pre-pandemic)
In the press release, the second vice president of workers’ compensation and transportation and risk control for Travelers, Chris Hayes, said:
“Traffic volumes were lower during the early days of the pandemic, which may have given drivers a false sense of security. Not only did distracted driving increase, data from our telematics product IntelliDrive shows that speeding also became more prevalent. As travel restrictions are lifted around the country, it’s critical to slow down and stay focused on the road by eliminating distractions.”
Why did fatalities increase if people were traveling less?
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that there were fewer miles driven overall in 2020. Despite this, the number of fatalities in traffic accidents increased from 2019 to 2020 by eight percent. What could have caused the increase in fatal accidents? Researchers, including Hayes, believe that an increase in speeds and reckless behaviors behind the wheel both played major roles in the numbers increasing year over year.
What kinds of dangers do Oklahoma truckers face?
Being a truck driver is not easy. It comes with long hours on the road alone, the need to make split-second decisions that could mean life or death, and being comfortable with hauling hazardous materials. On top of it all, truck drivers are at the mercy of the motoring public. There is a litany of dangers truck drivers face regularly on the roads of Tulsa (and beyond) that drivers of passenger vehicles might not recognize.
Nowhere to park the truck
Truck drivers don’t have many options when it comes to parking their trucks when it’s time to take a rest as required by the FMCSA hours of service regulations. The profession becomes quite dangerous when truck drivers don’t have many places to park and sleep. Wal-Mart has always been kind to truckers, allowing the use of their parking lots for all types of large vehicles, but most places aren’t. This can lead truck drivers to make a bad decision about pressing on, or leave them at the mercy of local law enforcement if they park on the side of a roadway.
For the record, a trucker who chooses to ignore the FMCSA hours of service rule can be held liable for any accident he or she causes, as can the trucking company itself.
No one likes driving in bad weather but truck drivers often have to carry on even if they know it’s a dangerous situation. Snow, sleet, ice, heavy rain, high winds, flooding, and fog can wreak havoc on a truck driver’s ability to see the road in front of them. Both the truck and other motorists involved in a crash may have a claim against the trucking company itself if poor weather leads to an accident.
Prior to the pandemic, and eventually, once it ends, tourism was a major concern in the trucking industry. Why? The more people on the roads traveling for vacation means the higher likely it becomes that a truck driver is involved in an accident.
Dangerous job duties
The job duties of a truck driver don’t just begin and end with getting behind the wheel of the big rig. Truck drivers often have to load their trucks, check the materials, install tire chains, clear the truck of snow or ice, and much more. These dangerous tasks can cause injuries and even death if something goes wrong.
The turnover rate for drivers is high
The turnover rate for truck drivers is high because it is such a challenging profession. Because trucking companies go through so many drivers in a given year, many don’t provide their employees with the proper training. One of the biggest safety issues in the trucking industry is the lack of experience of truck drivers because of the high turnover (and retirement) rates. Poorly trained truckers pose a danger to themselves and others, and companies can be held liable for their failure to train their drivers.
Dangerous delivery stops
Truck drivers can also face hazards at the stops they make on their itinerary. For example, broken loading docks, inadequate lighting, a lack of security, and other hazards can make being a truck driver incredibly dangerous. On top of it all, truck drivers could also suffer injuries when operating their trucks in reverse because of poor lighting and a lack of proper signage at the loading docks.
The trucking industry is already dangerous. Long hours, hazardous materials, inclement weather, and poor roads all combine for a challenging job for truckers of all experience levels. Combine that with distracted, impaired, tired, and reckless drivers, and truck drivers have their hands full when behind the wheel of a big rig. If you were injured in a truck accident in Tulsa, Biby Law Firm will fight for your right to compensation. Call our office at 918-574-8458 or complete the contact form to schedule a consultation today.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.