It is estimated that 9% of all traffic fatalities involve commercial vehicles. And while 80% of accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, are the fault of the non-commercial driver, it is the trucker’s responsibility to help prevent the other 20%. In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that 3,400 people died in accidents involving semi-trucks, and that fatalities rose 8% compared to 2009.
To prevent accidents, it’s important to understand what causes them. According to the Department of Transportation, the top ten causes of trucking accidents include:
- Driver fatigue.
- Debris on highway.
- Hitting a stopped vehicle from behind.
- Driving off the side of the road.
- Poor road conditions due to bad weather or maintenance.
- Loss of control.
- Mechanical failure.
- Shifting cargo.
- 10. Lane drifting.
Trucking is a high-risk job that involves constant attention to your vehicle, your driving, and other vehicles on the road at all times. Even one second of daydreaming or a moment of intense fatigue can lead to an accident. These accidents can cost both the driver and the trucking company dearly, leading to injured employees, loss of life, inventory loss, damage, production delays, liability and insurance costs, and lost business. It is estimated that one fatal crash can cost over $3 million, while non-fatal crashes cost about $62,000. Here are the top ways truckers can reduce accidents and save lives:
- Drive the speed limit and gradually slow down before work zones. Be on the lookout for construction workers on the side of the road and watch carefully for signs that herald a sudden decrease in speed.
- Don’t drive fatigued. It’s difficult to stay alert on the road when the hum of the engine and the warm sun can cause drowsiness. But knowing that even one second of drooping eyes can result in catastrophe should be serious enough to keep you alert. Pull over for quick naps when you can, get a full night’s sleep, and minimize caffeine to avoid crashing. Sticking to a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables will also alleviate fatigue, along with drinking plenty of water.
- Watch for debris on the road. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you in case they swerve to avoid debris, leaving you ample time to also avoid it.
- Watch for problem drivers. Everyone is distracted these days by their phone, eating, putting on makeup, or by other passengers in the car. Keep an eye out for vehicles that are drifting into your lane or swerving intermittently.
- Use your turn signals and allow plenty of time to change lanes. Always check every mirror before making a switch and watch your blind spots.
- Keep abreast of weather conditions and slow down for ice, rain, and snow.
- Inspect, inspect, inspect. Perform a thorough inspection of your truck before and after long hauls, paying special attention to brakes and tires.
- Make gradual stops.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. Don’t wear ear buds, talk on the phone, or eat while driving. Pull over if you need to make a phone call.
What recommendations do you have for accident prevention? Let us know in the comments