Trucking Accidents Rose Across the Country for the Last Few Years

Trucking Accidents Rose Across the Country for the Last Few YearsTruck drivers are known for driving long hours so that businesses, companies, and agricultural shippers can deliver and receive necessary products. During the height of the pandemic, the Hours of Service rule was suspended, meaning truckers could drive even longer hours than usual.

As Freightwaves explains, the suspension was seen as a necessary move at the time, as goods related to the COVID-19 pandemic were urgently needed throughout the country. This included “shipments of livestock, medical supplies, vaccines, groceries and diesel fuel.” This waiver was originally only supposed to last about a month or “until the end of the emergency.”

Now, two years later, the waiver was finally allowed to lapse, ending these emergency hours of service. As Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Robin Hutcheson told FreightWaves, “We evaluated the data coming back on who was using it, as well as the evaluation of the comments we received [on the last extension]. We also looked at where we are with COVID, and the guidance that has been coming out on that. All was behind the decision to let it expire.”

The extended hours of service coincided with an extreme rise in truck accident-related fatalities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the overall number of traffic fatalities increased by 10.5% between 2020 and 2021. Specifically, truck accident-related fatalities increased by 13%.

It is worth noting that some of the biggest increases in fatal collisions (overall) were seen on rural interstates (15% increase), urban interstates (11%), urban arterial roads (15%) and urban toll roads (20%). In fact, urban roads saw a much greater increase in traffic fatalities than rural roads (16% and 4%, respectively) between 2020 and 2021. NHTSA also reports that though more people died while traveling in-state than out-of-state, the percentage of fatalities increased more substantially in out-of-state travel (15% increase) than in-state travel (4% increase).

Correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but the facts are pretty clear:

  • Traffic fatalities increased the most on roads that truckers are more likely to travel.
  • Traffic fatalities rates increased more for out-of-state-travel.
  • Truck accidents increased overall by 13%.
  • Demand for shippers increased by 577% during the pandemic.
  • The country has been in the middle of a trucker shortage for years

Did the extended HOS cause these fatalities? Maybe not – but it seems safe to assume that they at least contributed to them. The rules were put in place for a reason, and they have helped decrease the number of truck accidents each year. With extended hours, that meant more truckers were driving longer distances for a longer amount of time with cargo that was badly needed. This led to fatigued drivers, who are more susceptible to distractions and speeding in order to get where they needed to go, on time in less time. The pressure the waiver put on our truck drivers, while necessary at the time to keep the country running, was not safe. Not only was it not safe for the truckers themselves, but for the drivers of other vehicles around them.

As trucks are large and heavy vehicles, they have the ability to cause a lot of damage to those around them should they end up in an accident. In essence, the HOS waiver created more dangerous roads for drivers everywhere – just another symptom brought on by the pandemic.

What injuries can Kentucky truck accidents cause?

If you are in an accident with a truck, you will be fortunate to survive the crash, and even more fortunate to walk away from it with minor injuries. In 2020, there were 147,000 injuries related to large truck accidents, with 68% of those injuries occurring to the occupants of the smaller vehicles.

Common truck accident injuries include:

While the cause of these accidents can come from truck driver negligence (distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, etc.), that is not always the case. Fault could also lie with the manufacturer, the trucking company, the cargo loaders, automakers, or maintenance technicians. If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is crucial to contact an experienced Kentucky injury lawyer so that all the parties involved in your accident can be held accountable for their actions.

As the regular Hours of Service rule returns, roads in Kentucky and across the nation should see a decrease in truck accidents, which is a very good thing for everyone driving. This decision will not only help truck drivers to recuperate from driving long hours, but it will help them to drive more safely around those of us in smaller, more vulnerable, vehicles.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, reach out to Wilt Injury Lawyers through our contact page to set up a free consultation. We proudly serve the state of Kentucky, with offices in Lexington and Louisville.