Given their massive sizes and the relatively high speeds at which they’re driven, commercial trucks are easily the most dangerous vehicles on the road. When these trucks crash, the resulting damages are both significant and widespread. Commercial truck accidents frequently involve multiple vehicles, serious injuries, and even deaths.
Unfortunately, not only are commercial trucks incredibly large and fast-moving, but they’re also driven by professionals who are rushing to log miles and beat the clock. Read on to discover several reasons why more truckers are dying in crashes despite concerted efforts to improve the safety of the commercial trucking industry.
The Long, Sleepless Nights of Commercial Trucking
Commercial truck drivers are often paid based upon the number of miles driven, rather than the number of hours put in. As such, these professionals actually have a very strong incentive for driving when they feel tired, ill, or are simply unable to focus.
The potential for falling asleep while on the road has always been a huge concern in this industry. Many truck drivers are known for fueling themselves up with caffeine and even illicit substances such as cocaine and methamphetamines.
The use of stimulants allows truckers to drive for long distances without feeling tired, but it also gives many drivers a false sense of heightened focus. Stimulant use can make drivers aggressive, and it can cause them to make unsafe driving decisions such as speeding and overtaking. Regular use of stimulants can also lead to:
- Severe agitation
- Hypertension and other illnesses that compromise driving abilities
Moreover, when drivers use stimulants to help them stay focused and alert during their driving hours, they tend to have a much harder time “coming down” or relaxing during the hours that are normally reserved for sleeping. All of these things contribute to a much higher risk of being involved in accidents.
Logging Countless Miles in Poorly Maintained Vehicles
Not only do truckers cover a lot of freeway miles without adequate maintenance and care, but their vehicles often do too. Many commercial vehicles routinely travel across the country and back again, with very little maintenance along the way.
With labor shortages, commercial trucking companies that routinely cut corners, and insufficient oversight, some commercial trucks are driven until they completely break down. Tire blowouts and other forms of automotive malfunction while on the road place at high risk of being involved in deadly accidents.
Insufficient Driver Training
Truck accidents cause fatalities every year, yet still, many trucking companies are not giving their drivers the training they need for operating their vehicles safely in all relevant climates.
Long-haul truckers face the unique challenge of driving through multiple climate types within just a matter of hours or days. Not only is this taxing on their vehicles, but it also demands a tremendous amount of driving skill.
While there are numerous requirements and regulations pertaining to the minimum amount of training that truckers receive, labor shortages and other factors can result in drivers hitting the road without first meeting them. As companies continue to recruit millennial applicants, the commercial trucking industry is seeing more drivers with far less real-world driving experience overall.
Driver Distraction and Mobile Technology
Driver fatigue, stimulant use, and the need to cover the greatest amount of distance within the shortest amount of time are all problems that have plagued the commercial trucking industry for decades. The increased use of mobile phones and other hand-held devices, however, is a relatively new phenomenon, and one that has created a vast range of all-new distractions and dangers.
Spending long hours driving and often through areas that have been experienced numerous times before can become monotonous and boring for those who drive commercial trucks for a living. Thus, many drivers reach for their mobile phones to keep themselves entertained throughout their journeys.
Commercial drivers are often guilty of texting, emailing, holding phone conversations, and even checking their social network accounts while on the road. Moreover, according to research, even when mobile phones are used in conjunction with hands-free technologies, using them is still known to cause accidents.
The dangers of being a commercial trucker are far from unknown. Commercial trucking companies are facing increasingly stronger demands for stricter compliance in both driver training and vehicle maintenance among other things. With the addition of more comprehensive drug testing programs and increased access to drug addiction treatment for drivers who need it, prevention efforts may eventually prove to limit the hazards of working in this field.