Reasons for the rise in truck-occupant crash deaths

| December 18, 2012

Other reasons:
Zachary Bell: Cheap pay, less-experienced truck drivers (distracted by laptops and smartphones), some aluminum trucks without SRS/airbags for the front occupants, poor weather, hours of service and aggressive car drivers.

The most common truck crash I see is the rollover– typically a truck blown over into a ditch by winds over 58 mph or a truck that takes a curve too fast and lays down on its side. Typical causes: low steer tire pressure (blowouts), crosswinds with high wind speed, and lack of braking and/or throttle response because the driver doesn’t know the correct way to react to such a situation. It’s especially bad with rookie drivers, who simply lack the experience to handle emergencies.

There are several fixes for these issues, including mandating more driver training during CDL school, equipping large trucks with modern safety features (TPMS, ESC, driver’s airbags, steel safety-caged cabs that pass the Swedish Impact Test) and making sure the hours rules are in touch with reality. ESC (full Electronic Stability Control) is an especially promising feature that could save the lives of hundreds of drivers each year — it’s a feature that should be made mandatory on all new trucks.

Larry Hanks: Not enough driver training for cars about how dangerous trucks can be and that they have blind spots.

Tony Blackburn: I think it has a lot to do with the technology that a lot of drivers are distracted by, as well as trying to run harder in a shorter period of time

Heather Anne Walrath: Lack of truck parking!

Tim Hilton: Ever thought of putting airbags in tractors? I never could understand why they never had any when every automobile has at least two and as many as what? 10 or more?

  • Brad

    My pay is barely higher than it was 27 years ago when I started trucking. with 0 chargeable accidents in all those years,its not right.

  • Jeff

    As a Pilot and Truck Driver, there is a Saying that applies in this case:
    There are OLD DRIVERS and BOLD DRIVERS, but there are NO OLD BOLD DRIVERS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chan.simson Chan Simson

    Drivers old and new are being pushed too hard to beat the 14 hr. clock as well as unrealistic appointment times that the 14 hr. clock doesn’t care about. Leaves little time for proper rest. FMCSA just doesn’t seem to see the big picture. Until they do, deaths will continue to rise in these new light weight flimsy rigs where freight is more important than safety and lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shawn.l.hubbard Shawn L Hubbard

    I don’t agree with the reasons given in the article. First, I remember reading a statistic that most accidents occur in the 7th or 8th year of driving, when the driver becomes overconfident in his/her abilities. Secondly, if lack of experience is to blame, we should see a corresponding ncrease in accidents, not just an increase in their severity. And third, EOBRs are just a red herring. Unless studies show that the increased dead drivers mostly used EOBR’s, I don’t buy it. The only connection I can make is perhaps lack of experience causes drivers to overreact and overcorrect, making accidents worse. A second possibility is that in 2011, the U.S. had more natural disasters than were recorded in any other year. Could that have something to do with it?

  • Jammer

    When you take away the choice of stopping to take a nap when your tired,without being under the 14hr gun,so they are forced to drive when their tired,When you allow trucking company’s to put a driver that has 6mo of experiance training another driver.Allow cars to drive around us with NO RESPECT. With no recourse. When the Shipper’s can hold you up for hrs,and then expect you to be on time,(if your not,you get penilized)or when the Rec. give’s you an appt. and your there for hrs,burning your 14hr clock,and if your late because your tired,your getting your butt chewed out and ya go back to the end of the line. When trucking Co. care ONLY about pleasing the Shippers and Rec.instead of the driver(looking out for the driver)The pay hasn’t kept up with the cost of living. What do ya think is gonna happen out here? This Industry has gone down the toliet,and the FMCSA,Goverment has allowed this to happen,as well as ALL of drivers that WON’T stand up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!! And do something about this BS!! Not just lip service. When I’m tired I DON”T CARE about that 14hr rule,I take a nap! If it take’s me 20hrs to do a 11hr run,I DON”T CARE!!!! What I care about is not driving when I’m tired, the people out there with me and myself. There is No LOAD nor NO APPT that is worth killing me or ANYONE ELSE.I make my own mind up,not the special intrest groups,these stupid laws that wern’t created by an experianced person in this industry,but some pencil pushing shmuck. I don’t think that ALL the rule’s are bad one’s just most. I don’t tell Ann Ferro, nor RayLlahood how to do their job,when they got yrs of experiance,why is it that they can tell me when I should drive and when I shouldn’t or how to do my job after 27yrs of being out here……………….. I’m jus saying……………

  • http://www.facebook.com/danny.murdock.35 Danny Murdock

    Every time I see a driver creating a hazard,big truck or four wheeler, they are holding a cell phone.

  • E Penner

    Here is my 2 cents. How does someone in the office that has never driven a truck have the right to dictate when i can drive and when i can sleep. I like to sleep when im tired and drive when im rested not when some book or law says i can. the 14 hr rule is definately a hazard.

  • charlie

    Apparantly you don`t have enough experience to even comment here. Everything being said so far is 100% correct. You put us on 14 hour clocks, 10 hour sleeper berths where most drivers need max of 8(other 2 hour, at least, are spent trashing around truck stops) no time to take nap due to 14 hour clock and “kids” undertrained and not caring all result in disaster. You sound like one the HATS that came up with this rules. When the people making these rules actually talk to a seasoned, caring, self respecting driver that does know anything about time and money maybe we can figure out the what is best for US actually tryuing to make a living doing this. Fourteen hour clock, eobr`s, 10 hour sleeper berths, nothing but a joke in this business. All these add up to drivers pushing their foot through floorboard to make up for lost time when they actually are allowed to drive under these restrictions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.baxter.5 John M. Baxter

    Hours of service rules out of touch with reality. . .nothing new there!

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.baxter.5 John M. Baxter

    Leave it to the pressures from organizations like CRASH to cause crashes by attempting to influence what should be determined by efforts combining the trucking industry and government officals.

  • theycallmemeathead

    I sat here and read this hole article and most of the comments. I must say that if these politcas were actually interested in doing something right. They would actually listen to seasoned drivers. But we know thats not going to happen because they think because we did’nt go to college WE HAVE TO BE DUMBER THAN THEY are!

  • theycallmemeathead

    I must add that I also agree with everybodys comments.

  • http://twitter.com/michaelstruckin michael bechara

    i must say one thing !!! and please listen to what i’m saying ! i’ve been driving for over 30 years without a problem and the reason is i drive when i am rested and alert i take breaks and sleep when i’m tired i don’t care what rule they want to imply on me . i’m the pro here and i know what i’m doing . this is a proffessional job for men and women that are trained to do what they do for a living . and to make a rule or tell us when and how we should drive is NOT RIGHT . I WILL NOT RUN A COMPUTER LOG OR A LOG BOOK BUT I DO RUN A SINGLE SHEET ;OG TO PASIFY THE DOT . SO GO BACK TO SINGLE SHEET LOG BOOKS AND LEAVE US ALONE AND LET US DO OUR JOBS !!!! OR YOU CAN JUMP IN THE SEAT AND DO IT YOURSELF ….

  • Ghost-Rider

    “GHOSTRIDER”

    Man this thing is out of control. The Government said “There I fixed it” ha,ha,ha,ha….. Its like this.

    Air traffic controller.. tells a pilot of a 747 he has clearance to land on run-way 14.

    Pilot… There is a piper club sitting there request a difference run-way.

    ATC.. NO you land on 14 NOW…

    so the pilot lands on 14 and kills 78 people..

    ATSB finds pilot was at fault…. WHAT? Who is at fault?

    ATC (air traffic controller)

    Ok with that being said lets go back 20 or so years ago in trucking.

    Dispatcher: driver you need to pick up this load today before 17:00 and its hot it will have to be delivered by 07:00 in the morning…

    Driver: I just got through running 16 hours drove all night to get this load delivered and now you are telling me I have to drive 300 miles to load this next load you know its 15:00 here and your telling me to make it their by 17:00 and deliver it 500 miles by 07:00 tomorrow. I can not do that.

    Dispatcher: So your telling me your not going to pick up this load?

    Driver: I m telling you it cant be done I don’t have the time to do it.

    Dispatcher: Well if you mess this account up by not picking this “HOT” load up just bring the truck back to the yard and you can find someone else to work for, and I will just report to DAT that you refused to pick-up and deliver the freight.

    So the driver sets out to pick up the load and has a wreck kills 2 people.

    FMCA finds. Driver at fault.

    Who is really at fault?

    Dispatcher.

    “THERE I FIXED IT”

    any questions?

  • Ivan

    Reallity check: I have read the 8 comments, I drove for 8 years, funny how that works. I do not and will not drive “seen enough”. You call the Washington Bureacrat’s Schmucks, You Small Companys, Owner/Operators, Drivers are the schmucks!. In them 8 years, I was asked by the man who trained me(my Father) “how do you log all them miles, Well it is all simple math and timing, I was a Schmuck.
    Your hours of Service are not for safety it is to maximize profits with the least amout of Slavery, for a KINNITE JEW. Get used to it BITCH You are a Warehouse on wheels. And by the comments below, They are not paying for the warehouse.
    Safety is just a word that sounds caring and nice. It is all simple math and timing. This is how the scam works, The only reason there is hours of Service is timing.
    If the Kinnite Jew receives 7 days a week, He pays for 2 days of warehouse space per week, You pay the other 5 days. And this Kinnite Jew is not going to pay detention time because he has not freed up warehouse space for your trailer if he can get away with it. Because there will always be another Johnie long haul Company that will do it for nothing and stick it to the Driver!
    The kinnite owned Big Trucking Companys get fringe benefits you little guys don’t get, They boarder cross illeagal drugs to maximize their profits. When they have to pay off the Government they give up a trailer load of the shit, Do you really think all the illeagal drug confisated get destroyed Who goes to jail the driver. Who launders the money a Kinnite Jew Owned Bank thats who. When one of these Kinnite Banks get caught they pay a little fine and no jail time.
    Mean while you are paying Unconstitutional income tax on your Personal Property, Your labor is personal property not Income. Slave SO WHO REALLY IS THE SCHMUCK
    I know of no Kinnite Jew to have EVER paid for anything. But times are AAA Changing
    If you are of the JEWISH FAITH and are offended by this comment GOOD then You know what I am talking about.
    You want to know what Offends me, Buying you bullet and bombs to shoot and drop on Palestinian(Like I said you sons of the first murder never pay for nothing), having Dual Citizenship and calling yourselves AMERICAN, Calling yourselves YHWH’S People The Choosen(sick bitch),
    khazars youtube Jewish Scribes writers of the Jewish Talmud ,, THIRTEEN TRIBES

  • Big John

    There is only one reason for the increase in crashes, REGULATIONS!. We cannot sleep when we get tired, we cannot find a place to sleep, we have to log on duty not driving when someone else is unloading the truck instead of being able log sleeper time, which we are in the sleeper. REGULATIONS, is the whole problem. We need to go back the 8 hrs. off, 10 on, let us pull over on ENTRANCE ramps when we can do it safely and let us get some sleep. I could easily run a legal log book under the old rules, now, it just cannot be done and make even a decent paycheck, spend too much time sitting, then we are already angry when we hit the road and that’s when the problem could start. JUST LET US RUN!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    You are Right Jammer..if ur tired..stop driving…take a nap..stay alive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    Agreed…Arrive Alive seems to be the concern as you get older..more so than Hammer Down!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    That happens ALOT……….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    Sure…the Journeymen..who stayed Alive by knowing what they were doing..are LEAVING TRUCKIN..retired and SICK of rules and regulations…replacements are brand new and it is a Deadly Occupation….fatalities for truckers are UP 20% for 2011…..see how it works? The numbers should get WORSE as time goes on…..the industry is in a total chaotic mess right now…Turnover is BACK at 106% annually for 2 quarters in a row….no end in sight to the Lunacy.

  • Carolina Raider

    Yes, I too left the trucking industry due to the HOS rules, as a driver from the days of the “Monfort Lane” . The HOS rules will burn out the average CMV Operator, no place to park in these truckstops at night and worst of all, the pay is so bad only a homeless person who is single would qualify for the 400 or less miles a day you drive due to the new regulations with the “electronic on board log systems” The transportation industry is being regulated by unqualified oversight committee non driving no nothings.
    Stand up for your rights drivers, retire and go back to college, let the “third country nationals “run the industry further into the ground. Merry Christmas and be Safe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/w6zrd Anthony Ochoa

    The HOS are not the main problem. I spent almost 4 years driving in Iraq and if the FMCSA saw some of the things we did over there, they’d all have heart attacks. 22-28 hours between sleep, 18 hours straight drive time, no hourly tire checks hauling explosives, barely 8 hours of sleep between shifts, Unable to take naps when you get tired, etc. And we had less accidents then you might think.

    The problem here are the “RULES” around the HOS. We were doing better with the 10/8/15 rules. Drive 10 hours, sleep for 8 as long as you did work more than 15 hours. Those were the days.

  • jonp

    A great number of the increased truck crashes can be summed up by 2 specific causes. The hard 14 hr rule which does not allow drivers to take a break during the day for a nap or an hour out of the truck without being in danger of running out of hours tied to the lack of increase in drivers pay over a few decades both of which would cause the paycheck to drop. The second is distracted driving among the public due to them staring at cellphones texting and talking on the phones not paying attention to what and where they are. Every day on an increasing basis I see drivers coming down on ramps 20mph below the posted speed talking on cellphones with no signals and not looking at oncoming traffic and people driving in the left lane weaving and running under the speed limit.

  • jonp

    I am making the same now as I was over 20yrs ago. What other industry has this problem? I seldom see this mentioned as a cause of the turnover in experienced drivers.

  • jonp

    You hit one nail on the head. Shippers and receivers that keep the drivers there 6 -8hrs with no repercussions should be cracked down on. Equipment breaks down and things happen but customers that are “running behind” need to be penalized.

  • jonp

    I remember the “Monfort” days myself. I switched from an otr to a local job a few years ago seeing the writing on the wall with the new hos rules. I’m home every night and off weekends. I make less money but it beats sitting in a truckstop and running out of hours at a customer. The industry will be boiled down to team freight, local jobs and inter modal in a few years. The old days of solo coast to coast are coming to an abrupt end.

  • m ilo

    i dont drive any more, federal regulations as they are its safer to let the outhers prove a point and keeps my stress level down. i never had an accdent or a violation since 1996 to now in a commercial viechle. the rules now i drive on ocassion its safer for me to stay off the road. last time my close call a ups driver was weaving and forced me off the road . he was watching tv.

  • Hcone

    Drive safe and get your rest no matter what!!! that 14hr clock is not what drives my truck… I do! and safety is always first. if you get tired then stop and rest and remember “Getting there late and safe will always beat an accident any day of year.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gordon-Alkire/1842744749 Gordon Alkire

    When we could stop and take a safety nap or eat with out penalty we had healthier drivers behind the wheel . Now the health of drivers is declining and our super knowledgeable government lackeys are constantly coming up with a different set of rules instead of changing existing ones to fit the situation. and improve highway safety. The one and only reason the government does not fix the HOS is that is would be admitting that they were wrong and that ain’t never going to happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gordon-Alkire/1842744749 Gordon Alkire

    This is about trucking not about some religious mutterings and diatribe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gordon-Alkire/1842744749 Gordon Alkire

    Your right. To be an expert witness and that is what you would be to speak before them is to have credentials and certification. 40+ years of safe driving is not enough for them as a driver does not earn letters for years of driving. Instead of PHD it should be LTSD ( life time safe driver) or SDW ( Safe Dock Worker) As long as we allow drivers into our industry that look like, talk like and smell like a dumpster diver we will be classed a UN SKILLED Labor

  • Coffeeclue

    Who said we didn’t go to college?

  • Coffeeclue

    I see everyone complaining about pay and HOS. Here’s the solution. Start up your own trucking company. Yes, with one truck.
    If you’ve been driving for 10 years, you should have enough money for downpayment. Personally, I buy $15K trucks and make all necessary repairs. New trucks simply lose too much value and cost just as much to repair as the old ones after the first year. Book your own loads through IT, but be smart about it. You must average $2/mile in order to make this work.
    I run paper logs, but I rarely break the rules. If you plan your trips wisely and accept well paying loads that you know you can handle, the HOS will not stand in your way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.hansen.3152 Craig Hansen

    Holy Crap are you a trucker or a jihadist? You call America Big satan and Israel little satan, you sir need to take this rubbish back with you when we deport your ass!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gordon-Alkire/1842744749 Gordon Alkire

    Coffeeclue

    Your right but in the real world there are few drivers that can do any of the business work demanded of having your own company. Quarterly filings, filings of FTA, fuel, mileage and all the other demands.that are the obstacles in the way of most drivers wanting to form their own company. Unless they have someone at home doing it they may as well be a company or lease driver .
    Take a look around you next time you in a truck stop and ask your self of all the drivers you see are they capable of owning their own company for longer than 6 months?

  • bluefox

    so true it was nice to take a nap if you got tired .but now they force us to drive tired .

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.nilsen Ken Nilsen

    You can do that, you are the driver. If you are too tired to drive there is no one forcing you to drive but yourself. Learn that lesson and you will be better off for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.nilsen Ken Nilsen

    Trucks on average are 2000 pounds heavier than they were 10 years ago. There is plenty of time for proper rest when you manage your time and do not let someone else dictate what you do as a driver.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.nilsen Ken Nilsen

    Regulations never have and never will cause a crash. The person behind the wheel is the number one reason for crashes. If you are tired find a safe place to stop the truck and rest. Slow down when weather becomes a problem. Slow down on ramps, Maintain safe following distances in construction zones. Plan your trips, plan your rest periods. If sitting makes you angry and unsafe to drive then please find another profession. Waiting has been part of this industry since it first began and it will always be there. I am sick and tired of so called professionals blaming everyone but the person behind the wheel who actually makes the driving decisions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.nilsen Ken Nilsen

    You are incorrect, if the driver knew it was unsafe then all he had to do was refuse to do the load. He chose to do the wrong thing. There is only one person behind the wheel of the truck remember that. There I fixed it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.nilsen Ken Nilsen

    No one can force you to drive tired. Can you please show me the truck that has more than one driver at a time?

  • R Aldrich

    unfortunately you don’t seem to understand the 14 hour rule, and with more customers using this j”just in time” scheduling crap, and making steep monetary penalties for late deliveries (Americold Logistics is especially bad @ $200 if more than 30 mins late regardless of reason) there is becoming less and less opportunity to get rest as you need it, especially in the winter months where the stress of driving on icy, snow covered roads zaps your energy much faster than driving in Florida on a sunny day..

  • R Aldrich

    must be nice to sit at a desk and troll… get out in the real world.. hook up a reefer and deliver some freight… come back in 3 months and tell us that you either quit because it can’t be done, or went bankrupt because you spent all this time sleeping at your own leisure whenever you felt like it, regardless of the fact you have a job to do…

  • Ron Lappreau

    I worked for a company whose president was told by our larger parent company that if profits didn’t increase he would be fired and replaced. The result was a lot of middle of the night, lone truck carnage. Two died in separate accidents. One narrowly escaped with his life from another early am crash and said a deer ran in front of him. While I was there I was only assigned loads that required me to drive tired, usually overnight, to make an on time delivery. The dispatch and load planning department displayed a total disregard for my activities prior to driving and my natural and unpredictable need for rest. I decided to escape with my life. Please believe me when I say there are people in positions of power in the trucking industry who consider loss of life an acceptable risk in the pursuit of money. They are genuinely insane.

  • g bib

    34 hrs eats up your home time more like prison sentence in a space smaller than a legal cell, 14 hrs makes you work stupid can’t stop to eat or nap; low pay, dispatchers pushing, kids needs you can’t get home there not crashes there suicides

  • hottrodscars

    After 40 years and 4 million miles, I took early retirement at 63 because of the HOS rules. No tickets in all that time, no chargeables, and never was shut down at a scale. Ever since Obama got in office, the rates went right into the toilet.

  • gene

    this is the same thing i”ve said to many other drivers, i also believe that a trainer needs to be evaluated on his or her ability to train others , these people use a warm body in the next seat just to increase their own bottom line financial most of the time.

  • gene

    there are many problems in the trucking jobs of today, but most of these problems exist because of gov’t . no person should dictate procedure without the proper training or experience. Sitting behind a desk does not qualify these people.when someone dies out here, there should be accountability and laws changed to insure safety for ALL. There should be a organization like M.M.A.L.G.

    MAD MOTHERS AGAINST LAZY GOV’T

  • Dave Taylor

    The fine a semi driver pays for using a handheld cell phone is up to $2,750 and their company will be fined up to $11,000. Get their DOT number and report them.

  • Dave Taylor

    But, they can and do fire you for being late a few times. And, you do pay penalties for missed appointments that somebody made for you without giving you any spare time.