In the seventies, truck driving became fodder in plots of major motion pictures. Films such as Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit portrayed the industry as action-packed with a bit of romance and CB lingo thrown in for good measure, along with the inherent dangers and risks for extra drama.
Fast forward four decades. Smartphones have replaced CBs, and semi-tractor trailers have never enjoyed more cutting-edge technology to keep them safe. However, that has not prevented the alarming number of dangerous and deadly crashes with much smaller vehicles.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviewed nearly three years of truck accident data on highways throughout the country sourced from the 2007 Federal Motor Carrier FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS). Partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they conducted analyses of 963 cases that covered 120,000 serious and fatal crashes involving 141,000 trucks.
Nearly half (44 percent) of those accidents were caused by driver error that included:
- Speeding – Accounting for 23 percent of all truck accidents, drivers traveled too fast for the poor weather or traffic conditions they were experiencing. Even more alarming, these speeding and reckless behemoth vehicles are 670 percent more likely to be the “critical reason” for collisions than trucks abiding by the rules of the road.
- Braking – Almost one-third (29 percent) of trucks on the road suffered from the most common factor in crashes, brake problems. That alarming data puts these vehicles at 170 percent more likely to occupy the “critical reason” category when crashes occur due to poorly adjusted brakes.
- Lack of familiarity with roads – While navigation technology can provide warnings to truckers of oncoming hazards, a certain level of preparedness is paramount. Twenty-two percent of crashes occur due to not being prepared, increasing the chances of accidents by 100 percent. Proactive steps can include knowledge of specific routes and potentially difficult turns.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” is a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin. This classic and sage advice can keep vehicles of all sizes safe on streets, highways, and freeways in Kentucky and throughout the nation.