Large truck accidents account for a major portion of highway deaths in Louisiana and across the nation. Per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s most recent statistics, in 2015, 11 percent of highway deaths involved a truck. Of the 3,852 people who died, passenger car occupants made up 69 percent, 16 percent were in the trucks themselves and 15 percent were bicyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adds that 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2015, an 8 percent increase from the previous year. In terms of the trucks themselves, 75 percent were tractor-trailers and the remaining 25 percent were single-unit trucks.
Why big trucks crash
When fully loaded, a large truck can take 20-40 percent longer to stop than a passenger vehicle. If weather or road conditions are poor, such as during rain, sleet, snow or ice, this stopping distance increases substantially.
Another major factor in big truck crashes is driver fatigue and/or distractedness. Even though the commercial trucking industry and its drivers are heavily regulated, many drivers ignore and/or subvert these regulations, driving for longer periods of time than those prescribed by law. Other drivers drive while talking or texting on their cellphones. Some even drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition, many trucking companies fail to perform the routine maintenance that big trucks require.
When big trucks crash
Most big truck crashes, 53 percent, occur on major highways. Another 30 percent occur on interstates and freeways and 14 percent occur on more rural roads. Only 17 percent of big truck crashes occur on weekends; the other 83 percent occur during the week. Not surprisingly, 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. are the most dangerous times, with 53 percent of fatal truck crashes occurring during that time period.