Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Record Most Occupational Fatalities

The U.S. Department of Labor just released a report last month (December 2016) on occupational fatalities from 2015. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries CFOI revealed some startling news – especially for drivers. The data uncovered the dangers of the commercial trucking industry:

“Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation.”

Unfortunately, this statistic is telling of a greater trend: over the past five years, truck driver fatalities have risen by a little over 11%. Trucking industry experts have argued that an increased reliance on trucking to transport goods, as well as an increase in online shopping, which demands rapid delivery, has put more truck drivers on the road. Ultimately, this has contributed to higher incident rates of accidents and driver deaths.  

“The number of fatal work injuries involving transportation incidents, the incident leading to the most fatal work injuries, increased in 2015. Roadway incidents were up 9 percent in 2015 to 1,264 and accounted for 26 percent of all fatal work injuries. Almost half of these fatalities (629) involved a semi, tractor-trailer, or tanker truck.”

Naturally, these incidents don’t just affect the semi-driver, but also adversely affect public safety. At J. Gonzalez Law Firm, we understand that many trucking accidents are preventable, but often times, trucking companies place profit before safety.

Truck Industry Dangers

A lack of safety and training standards is at the core of truck industry dangers. These dangers are heightened even further by the lack of control truck drivers have over their work environment. Public roads and highways are understandably dangerous and full of unexpected risk, but when a lack of monitoring, effective supervision, and safety maintenance come into play, the roads become unsafe for all.

There’s also the issue of driver compensation. Trucking companies encourage drivers to choose productivity over safety and often times drivers are overworked, sleep deprived, and forced into tough working conditions that helps to reinforce fatality rates.

These issues help to promulgate chronic turnover, meaning under qualified and inexperienced truck drivers are placed behind the wheel of 80,000 pounds of metal. It’s also important to consider that an inexperienced driver can be employed at a much cheaper price than an experienced truck driver with a proven safety record.   

While Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations stipulate the need for proper training, monitoring, and supervision of drivers, these standards are not often met. As maintaining a fleet of semi trucks can quickly lead to increased expenses, many drivers are sent out on the road with bad brakes and tires.

Drug and alcohol tests are also not frequently imposed. Even when a driver has caused many prior wrecks, a shortage in workforce labor allows them back on the road.

Sadly, many truck drivers are coerced into violating safety rules and must deal with the possibility of losing wages if they choose to defy orders.

Addressing Safety Issues

While the need for improved safety measures and standards must still be addressed, manufacturers and suppliers are developing improved safety systems to protect truck drivers in accidents or avoid them all together. The National Transportation Safety Board has developed a list of safety improvement for trucks, buses, and cars, urging manufacturers to incorporate adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, blind-spot detection systems and advanced lighting.

Highly recognized semi-truck producer, Freightliner, has developed a model that features a bevy of safety features including brake assist, windshield mounted camera for lane departure warnings, LED-equipped headlights, and other new features.

While traffic-related fatalities have risen over the past five years, the American Trucking Associations reports that fatal truck-involved crashes have fallen substantially since 1980. Truly, the safety of all drivers on public roads is everybody’s responsibility.

Involved in a car accident or injured as a result of a wreck with a semi-truck? The Rio Grande Valley attorneys of J. Gonzalez Law Firm have the experience and determination to fight for your justice.

The McAllen metro region is a hub for commercial truck activity, which means we tend to have a greater number of trucking accidents. While there are rules and regulations designed to keep the public safe, trucking companies do not always abide by the rules. If you’ve be injured as a result of someone’s negligence, you have the right to fight for your just due.

Contact the law office of J. Gonzalez Law Firm today at (956) 630-6700 to get the legal representation you deserve.