Even experienced drivers get nervous when driving next to a big truck on the road, and it is understandable. Trucks can be 20 times the weight of cars, and collision risk is high whether it is due to mechanical problems or drivers’ errors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that from 2016 to 2019, large truck and bus injury crashes increased 13 percent. This was due to several factors, including more trucks on the road, congested highways and freeways, speeding, and distractions.
Each year in the United States, 4,000 people are killed in trucking accidents. Many more are injured. Injuries sustained in a truck crash can lead to disability and a lifetime of pain.
Fully loaded tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, compared to 3,500 pounds for an average passenger vehicle. That is 22 times the weight, and unfortunately, the heavier the vehicle, the greater the potential for damage in a crash. For that reason, truck drivers follow a strict set of guidelines on maintenance, mechanical checks, and driving limits.
What are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations?
Truckers’ work and rest hours are strictly regulated by the federal government to prevent tired driving and the risk of crashes. Some of these rules include:
- Mandatory 30-minute breaks after eight straight hours of driving
- Eleven-hour driving limits (in most situations)
- Three-part driver days: driving, on-duty, off-duty (these are blurring)
- Maximum drive time of 14 hours for a short-haul drive (150 miles)
But the shortage of truck drivers has led some to change those regulations to get more truckers on the road.
What are the Ramifications of the Driver Shortage?
Some states, like Tennessee, are passing regulations to lower the age limit of 21 to 18 for semi-truck drivers. This would allow younger drivers to not only fill some of the job openings but also cross state lines.
But is lowering the age limit worth the risk?
Teen drivers, even though they drive less, have an accident rate that is four times higher than that of drivers over 20. Teens also tend to speed and engage in distracted driving more often than older drivers. Big rig drivers younger than 21 already have a 500 percent increase in injury crashes compared to truck drivers overall, according to a study from the University of Michigan. Combining that reckless driving with heavy tractor-trailers could result in many more collisions and trucking accident lawsuits.
How We Help Victims of Truck Accidents
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, contact the experienced truck accidents lawyers at Waters Kraus & Paul today. We understand the ins and outs of these difficult matters and we are prepared to provide swift and effective counsel for your case and help you get the results you deserve. Contact our experienced trucking accident lawyers now to see if you have a case.