According to an article in Transport Topics, truck-related fatalities rose 8.7 percent last year for the first time since 2005, reversing a long-term downward trend. Overall highway deaths, however, dropped to their lowest level since 1949, the Department of Transportation said. A preliminary report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said that in 2010, 32,885 people were killed in accidents of all kinds, a 2.9 percent decrease from 2009.
Despite the declining overall number of fatal accidents, some 3,675 people were killed in large truck crashes. That figure includes truck drivers as well as the drivers and passengers of other vehicles involved in large truck collisions.
These latest numbers from the NHTSA intensify debates over both truck driver hours of service as well as weight limits on the trucks they drive. Trucking interests and the DOT are battling over plans to shorten driver work hours while Congress continues to debate allowing even heavier trucks onto the nation’s roadways.
The number of truck drivers killed in crashes rose 6 percent last year to 529 people. Almost 64 percent of those truckers, 337 people, were killed in single-vehicle crashes, the NHTSA said. The number of other-vehicle occupants killed rose a shocking 9.1 percent to 2,790 people. It was not just the number of deaths as a result of large truck crashes that increased, the number of injuries also rose 12 percent to 19,000.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules state that drivers are permitted to work no more than 14 consecutive hours. Of that time, only 11 hours may be devoted to driving. The remaining time may be spent on paperwork, loading and unloading, etc. After exhausting these limits, drivers are required to spend a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty.
The regulations are designed to prevent commercial truck drivers from becoming too tired to drive safely but are only effective if they are enforceable. The problem that often works against proper enforcement is that most truck drivers are paid by the mile. As a result, the incentive to break the hours of service rules is tremendous, sometimes with tragic results.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident or truck wreck because of the carelessness of another driver, call the personal injury attorneys at Pope McGlamry P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.
Source: “Highway Fatalities Fall to Record Low; Truck-Related Deaths Rise,” published at TTNews.com.