Truck accidents are unfortunately a common occurrence in Pennsylvania and around the country. Because of the size and weight of these massive vehicles, other road users face an elevated risk of serious and often fatal injuries. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics indicate that these concerns are well-founded, especially as the last several years show a trend of rising large truck accidents and an attendant increase in fatalities. From 2015 to 2017, the percentage of fatal crashes involving a large truck rose each year, as did the number of fatalities in accidents involving large trucks and buses.
Pennsylvania roadways don't seem to be getting safer despite improved technology. This is according to a Road Safe America report released on Jan. 29. The group analyzed crash data for 2009-2017 and found that 44 out of 50 states saw an increase in big truck crashes. Pennsylvania had one of the highest truck crash fatality rates.
Drivers in Pennsylvania should consider the following safety tips so that they can reduce their chances of crashing into a large truck. According to the U.S. DOT, large truck crashes led to 3,986 fatalities in 2016. More than 65 percent of those victims were the occupants of lighter vehicles. Only 17 percent were truckers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains hours-of-service regulations for commercial drivers, but it has long provided exemptions for truckers in the agricultural industry. Pennsylvania residents should know that many safety advocates are worried about the effect of these exemptions. In particular, the exemptions may be allowing livestock haulers to work unreasonably long hours and become drowsy at the wheel.
Large truck accidents can pose a serious risk to other drivers and passengers on Pennsylvania roads. Statistics indicate that the number of serious motor vehicle accidents involving concrete delivery trucks and dump trucks continues to climb. Even though insurance premiums for these types of trucks in a fleet have also escalated, the problem poses a significant risk to others on the road, especially when poor driving habits or other driver negligence is to blame. Various safety regulators have tried to address the issue by introducing technologies to measure roadway incidents and cut back on driver fatigue.
Pennsylvania motorists may not know that truck accidents around the country claimed 4,761 lives in 2017 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and some observers are saying that federal hours of service rules could be partly responsible. The regulations were put into place to prevent truck drivers from remaining behind the wheel while dangerously fatigued, but some trade groups claim that they encourage speeding and recklessness.
Drivers in Pennsylvania may be particularly concerned about the catastrophic danger of big rig accidents. There are a number of issues that can lead to commercial truck crashes, including excessive driving and the resulting truck driver fatigue. In response to the threat posed by fatigued or distracted drivers, some companies have attempted to develop technological solutions that monitor safety issues and could help to avoid accidents.
Many of the passenger vehicles on sale in Pennsylvania and around the country are equipped with crash-avoidance systems that are designed to prevent rear-end collisions, but few semi-tractor trailers have this technology. Road safety advocates say that repeated calls from the National Transportation Safety Board to mandate such systems have been largely ignored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration despite a worrying rise in truck accident fatalities. According to NHTSA data, the number of road users killed in accidents involving tractor-trailers has increased by 28 percent in just two decades.
Just by looking at them, most Pittsburgh residents can tell that a large truck colliding with a car would in most cases cause extensive damage to the smaller vehicle. This is largely a matter of physics, as a truck going as fast as a car has a lot more momentum. In any event though, the size difference also means the driver of a car is more likely to suffer serious injuries or even die after a truck accident.
Most Pittsburgh residents know that, before driving a vehicle, a Pennsylvania resident must make sure he or she has proper insurance on that vehicle. Pennsylvania law establishes the minimum amount of that insurance.