Why Commercial Vehicle Crashes Are Rising and How To Avoid Them

Top Three Reasons Commercial Vehicle Crashes are on the Rise

In 2017, the number of crash fatalities involving big trucks, weighing between 10,000-14,000 pounds, rose to its highest level in almost 30 years according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Even more surprising? Consider the fact that the total number of traffic fatalities dropped over the same timeframe. When it came to over-the-road tractor-trailers, defined as vehicles exceeding 26,000 pounds —fatalities rose 5.8 percent.

You may ask yourself then – what’s going on? Why are larger vehicles seemingly becoming more dangerous while the roads as a whole are getting safer?

Speed Limits are on the Rise

Driving faster creates more danger — there’s no getting around it. With the number of cars on the road increasing, both passenger and commercial vehicles, industries like e-commerce drove an increase in shipping volume on America’s roads by 48 percent between 2014 – 2016. In the search for increased efficiency, speed limits have increased. Since 1974, the National Maximum Speed Limit was set at 55 mph.

Seven states now have a maximum speed limit of 80 mph — 11 more carry a maximum speed limit of 75. One stretch of Texas’ Highway 130 even carries a speed limit of 85. People can get from place to place faster than ever, but it comes at a cost. According to an April 2019 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), every incremental 5 mph speed limit increase comes with an eight percent increase in interstate and freeway fatalities. From 1993 through 2017, the IIHS concluded that there were more than preventable 36,000 traffic fatalities due to increased speed limits.

Drivers Aren’t Getting Enough Rest

Drivers of commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to comply with regulations capping maximum driving time. Think about the millions of light- and medium-duty trucks in the United States (U.S.) whose drivers aren’t required to comply with regulations. They’re just as susceptible to the negative effects of sleep deprivation as anyone else.

According to The Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of U.S. adults admit to drowsy driving and one in three drivers admits to having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past month. More alarming, driving after you’ve been awake for 24 hours impairs your ability to drive more than having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. Sleep matters. Being on the road for a long stretch of time put you to sleep even if you’re not particularly tired. Make sure you’re taking the right steps to stay alert on the road and behind the wheel.

Distracted Driving Impacts Everyone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people are killed and 1,000 are injured every day in crashes involving distracted driving. The biggest culprit? It may be what you’re reading this on–- that’s right, your cell phone. With the ability to talk, text, change music or adjust your GPS, checking social media, it’s easier than ever to take your eyes and mind off the road. Unfortunately for those driving large vehicles, distracted driving doesn’t just impact the person partaking in the behavior. A loaded semi-truck traveling at 65 mph takes more than 500 feet to come to a complete stop after the driver reacts, meaning at times it may be hard to avoid a seemingly preventable crash.

So, What’s Going On?

The easiest way to encourage safe driving is hiring low-risk drivers, but many companies don’t check motor vehicle records more than once a year. With continuous driver monitoring, you can be alerted almost immediately if any of your drivers commits a traffic violation that could increase your company’s liability.

Your business’ commitment to the safety of your drivers, company and community can be achieved with the help of continuous driver monitoring and. SambaSafety can help. Since 1998, we’ve been informing employers, fleet managers and insurance providers to make educated decisions about the safety of their drivers.