Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that trucking accidents are on the increase. From 2009 to 2012, fatal crashes increased over 18 percent. CNBC.com suggests that the reviving economy has put more goods on the road and increased pressures on companies to make deliveries on time.
Numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- 4000 fatalities from truck crashes in 2012
- 100,000 injuries from truck crashes in 2012
According to its interviews with victims and lawyers, industry and regulators, CNBC lists the following causes for fatal truck crashes:
- Overly tired drivers
- Companies not screening for problem drivers
- Government regulators too slow to require use of new safety technologies
- Passenger vehicles not driving safely around heavy trucks that have slow reaction times
Although identifying the specific causes of truck accidents and their remedies is an area where the trucking industry and those who would reform it disagree.
One safety measure would be to track down and take action against drivers who are repeat violators. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that 5 percent of drivers inspected in 2012 were taken out of service for having too many violations.
In addition, more than 20 percent of vehicles inspected in 2012 were taken out of service for having too many violations.
Federal regulators have recently begun to crack down on companies with a high level of violations who simply re-register with the Department of Transportation under a new name. These “chameleon carriers” often duck and cover to avoid fines and penalties. Now the FMCSA is doing some behind the scenes investigations to spot identical addresses and other data that can help them stop violators on the run.
CNBC tells the tragic story of a mother, her two young sons and the grandmother who were killed on Interstate 80 traveling from Illinois to Ohio. As traffic slowed due to congestion, a three-axle Intercontinental 9400 semi-trailer didn’t see the slowdown in time. The semi-trailer crushed the family’s minivan and the four were killed on impact. The 57 year-old driver of the truck was also killed at the scene.
A private investigator discovered that the driver’s company had given him seven safety warnings and he was involved in three prior rear-end accidents. Millis Transfer, the operators of the truck that caused the accident, reportedly agreed to a $13 million settlement with the family’s survivors.