Why Are Truck Accidents Increasing?

According to federal regulators, the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks continue to occur at historically high levels. In its April 2017 report summarizing crash statistics from 2015 (the most recent year available), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) concluded that:

  • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 8 percent from 2014.
  • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased by 1 percent from 2014 (but that small decrease followed a more than 60% increase from 2009 to 2014).
  • The number of buses involved in fatal crashes increased by 11 percent from 2014.
  • The number of vehicle miles traveled by large trucks was basically unchanged from 2014 to 2015.

Overall, large truck accidents cause about 4,000 fatalities and 100,000 injuries in the US on an annual basis.

As technology continues to improve passenger vehicle safety, why have large trucks become an increasing hazard on Phoenix highways and other US roads over the last decade?


Trucking industry experts point to various regulatory changes that could improve safety but Congress has consistently resisted imposing additional restrictions on the industry. Even worse, Congress has proposed rolling back some existing trucking company regulations and weakening FMCSA’s oversight abilities, such as:

  • Increasing the maximum permitted workweek for truckers from 70 to 82 hours during every 8-day period.
  • Discouraging FMCSA from investing in wireless technology to improve the monitoring of trucks and drivers.
  • Permitting longer and heavier trucks on the road while lowering the minimum age of interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18.

Lack of Technology

Large trucks in Europe are more likely to include the kinds of safety features that have become standard in passenger vehicles – electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, airbags and collision avoidance systems. Even though this technology is offered by the major truck manufacturers, the US trucking industry has generally not invested in those upgrades because of their cost.

Sleepy Drivers

Numerous studies have shown that truckers are more likely to suffer from obesity and sleep apnea than the general population. Sleep apnea interferes with normal sleep and leaves people with the condition chronically fatigued during the day. Even though FMCSA’s studies have concluded that trucker fatigue is one of the leading causes of large truck accidents, Congress has consistently slowed down any FMSCA efforts to impose mandatory apnea screening for truckers.

Compounding the apnea problem is the brutal schedule most truckers maintain to earn a living – often in violation of the weekly hour limits imposed by FMCSA. They routinely work overtime hours to earn more money and to make up “lost” miles from traffic and other delays. The trucking companies make things worse by asking drivers to comply with unrealistic delivery schedules.

If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, call a Phoenix truck accident attorney at Hirsch & Lyon for a free consultation. With offices throughout the Phoenix metro area, our lawyers can provide the representation you need to get the compensation you deserve.

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