With so many commercial trucks traveling across West Virginia and the rest of the U.S., drivers may be wary sharing the road with them. Truck accidents may end in death, usually for the occupants of the passenger vehicle; in fact, occupants of the smaller vehicle make up 97 percent of all fatal crashes between trucks and passenger vehicles. When the occupants survive, they often have to cope with long-term physical and emotional trauma.
The presence of commercial trucks on the roads of West Virginia, as in other states, can make a lot of drivers anxious. Truck accidents usually result in serious injuries or death for those in passenger vehicles. Though safety measures and technology have kept the crash rates down, there has still been a noticeable increase. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a new report showing a 3 percent rise in fatal truck crashes in 2016.
The commercial trucking industry employs more than 7 million people, with nearly half of those employees driving the trucks. With truckers clocking in as much as 70 hours in an eight-day workweek, it's no surprise that driver fatigue is a hazard in the industry. Every year in West Virginia and across the U.S., an estimated 100,000 crashes occur because of truck driver fatigue.
Many people are killed in large truck crashes in West Virginia and the rest of the U.S. each year. The National Safety Council is working together with the Road to Zero Coalition in an effort to reduce the number of fatalities in truck accidents and other types of motor vehicle accidents to zero by 2050.
Although many truck drivers in West Virginia work hard to operate their vehicles properly, the trucking industry overall appears to have a safety problem. Over the past decade, there has been a 20 percent increase in truck accidents. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study investigated the reasons behind these wrecks and determined that truck driver errors are the cause of many accidents.
Semi-trucks are a common sight on the highways of West Virginia, and their bulk makes them dangerous in crashes. Over the past decade, truck accidents have increased in frequency by 20 percent. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study produced by federal transportation agencies examined 120,000 fatal commercial truck accidents and concluded that drivers caused 68,000 of the wrecks.
West Virginia drivers may be concerned about the dangers that truck driver fatigue can pose on the road. Truck drivers who are drowsy behind the wheel could lose concentration or doze off while driving. While this is a dangerous action in any vehicle, it can be compounded by the significant size and mass of a large truck.
Truck driver fatigue is a serious road safety issue in West Virginia and around the country. However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association claims that current federal regulations force truck drivers to stay on the road when they are tired, and it wants the rules changed.
Overloading a truck can be dangerous for the driver and create excess wear on the vehicle. If a truck is too heavy, it could rollover, which may cause issues for occupants of other vehicles on West Virginia roads. It is also important to make sure that a load is properly distributed throughout the truck. If there is too much weight on a single axle, it could also increase the risk of an accident or increased damage.
Many people in West Virginia who earn their living as truck drivers sometimes put in many hours behind the wheel just to get to work. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is planning a survey that would explore the influence of long commutes that exceed 150 minutes on truck driver health and performance.