Truck driving is a popular career choice in America, employing roughly 1,860,000 nationwide. Due to the increase in consumerism and the import and export of goods, this number is expected to rise by 11 percent by the year 2022. The truck driving industry is a popular career choice due to the availability and consistency of work, the reasonable pay and benefits, and the minimal qualifications required, read the employment facts at www.bls.gov. However, despite its growing popularity, truck driving is a challenging job that entails innumerable risks for employees, as well as other drivers on the road.
Being a truck driver is among America’s most dangerous jobs, rated at number eight in total injuries and deaths reported. In fact, roughly 11 fatal truck accidents occur every day, resulting in 4,000 deaths per year. Nearly 100,000 more people face serious injury each year on account of truck-related accidents, and the number of injuries and fatalities has been on the rise since 2009. The rise in truck accidents is directly correlated to the improving economy, which has resulted in an increase in overall consumerism, thereby increasing the import and export of goods. With more goods being transported than ever before, there are more trucks on the road, which invariably results in more accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
While statistically, truck drivers have shown to drive more cautiously than the average vehicle on the road, they still manage to get into considerably more accidents in the process. This is due to a number of factors both within and beyond the control of drivers. Unlike standard vehicles, trucks have increasingly large blind spots which dramatically increase the risk of accidents while driving. Additionally, such a large vehicle is harder to maneuver and turn, resulting in greater risk of collision. However, perhaps the most common contributor to increased accidents among trucks is due to the conditions of the workers themselves, many of whom drive long hours with little break time in between. For more about this topic read our previous blog about stopping driver negligence.
Contributing Factors to Truck Accidents
Drowsy, under-slept, and over-caffeinated, these truck drivers put themselves at far greater risk of falling asleep behind the wheel or veering off the road. Truck drivers are held to rigid deadlines, deadlines that often fail to factor in unexpected traffic or weather conditions on the road. As such, many truck drivers have to skip their breaks and drive excessive hours to make it to their destination on time. This results in sleep deprivation among drivers, causing a significant increase in accidents. Additionally, odd scheduling results in the circadian rhythm of workers to be offset to a dangerous degree. Many truck drivers report routinely rotating between daytime and graveyard shifts, which upsets their natural sleep routine, resulting in chronic insomnia and fatigue.
It’s important, not only for truck drivers, but for everyone on the road, that truck drivers remain healthy and well-rested before driving. The surge in truck-related deaths could be easily mitigated by simply ensuring that drivers are provided consistent, realistic schedules that make safety a priority. With the industry expecting to increase by 11 percent in the next decade, it’s paramount that employers begin recognizing and confronting the risk factors associated with the job, and begin working on practical solutions to the problem.