Trucking Accidents Spike During the Holidays
In general, the holidays are one of the most dangerous times to travel on the road: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all tend to have a far greater number of fatal traffic accidents compared to an average day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Between 2001 and 2005, for example, the NHTSA tracked the number of daily traffic-related fatalities during the Christmas season and found that, on average, 45 people died each day. That’s compared to an average of 36 deaths per day for the rest of the year.
With all the shipping activity that accompanies gift-giving in the Amazon age, it should come as no surprise that the trucking industry isn’t exempt from this annual trend. In fact, the winter holiday season is often one of the deadliest stretches of the year when it comes to truck wrecks.
Fortunately, if you’re aware of the dangers and take sensible steps to stay safe, you can significantly lower your risk of being involved in one of these devastating collisions.
Why Do More Trucking Accidents Happen During the Holidays?
Some of the key factors that contribute to truck and bus wrecks throughout the year tend to be even more pronounced during the holiday season. These risk factors include:
- Fatigue. Truck driver fatigue already plays a part in as many as a third of all trucking accidents, and many of the factors that normally push truck drivers beyond the limits of their stamina — demanding delivery schedules, incentives from employers to break hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, etc. — are even more pervasive during the hectic holiday season.
- Tight schedules. With delivery schedules at their most grueling during the holiday season, many truck drivers feel pressured to speed and take other safety shortcuts in order to stay on time.
- Poor weather conditions. In many parts of the country, the holidays can bring snow, sleet, or freezing rain — not to mention all those extra hours of night driving, during which visibility is much lower. All of these factors combine to make the roads much more dangerous for cars and trucks alike during the winter holiday season. In addition, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles already require stopping distances that are much longer than passenger cars, and they take even longer to slow down in wet or icy conditions.
- Undertrained drivers. Trucking companies often need additional staff to keep up with demand for the holidays, and some of them compensate by hiring inexperienced drivers and putting them on the road without the proper training. This problem exists throughout the year for the trucking industry, but it becomes even more pronounced during the holiday crunch.
How to Stay Safe During Holiday Travel
While you may not be able to completely eliminate your risk of being involved in a collision with a large truck or bus, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do. The following highway safety tips can help put you in the best possible situation to avoid a crash in the event that something unexpected happens.
- Give trucks plenty of room. Probably no other safety tip can lower your risk of being injured in a trucking accident as much as the simplest one: stay far away from trucks and other big vehicles. While you can’t always avoid large trucks on the highway or on major roads, you can usually give them plenty of space. Avoid tailgating or following closely behind large trucks, and in the event that you need to pass one of these vehicles, make sure you do so carefully but decisively (never drive alongside a large truck for longer than you have to). Also, when a truck needs to change lanes or merge into or out of freeway traffic, let them do so freely and give them lots of room.
- Slow down. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, speeding is the most common driver-related factor in fatal crashes that involve large trucks. Driving a little more slowly around large vehicles is a good idea in general, and it becomes even more essential in wet or icy conditions.
- Avoid blind spots. Unlike a typical passenger vehicle, it’s almost impossible to engineer a large truck so that the driver can see everything around them. All tractor-trailers and similar large trucks have blind spots, especially in these locations:
- Directly in front of the truck
- Directly behind the truck
- Next to the doors of the truck’s cab (especially on the right side)
If you’re in one of these blind spots, it means that the truck driver most likely can’t see you, which puts you in an extremely dangerous situation in the event that the trucker decides they need to make a sudden move such as a lane change.
Contact Morgan Adams If You’ve Been Hurt in a Trucking Accident
Unfortunately, even the best drivers can find themselves injured in a collision due to someone else’s negligence. If you or someone you love has been hurt or even lost a loved one in a large truck or bus crash, Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the knowledge and expert resources needed to guide you through every step in the complex process of pursuing a truck wreck injury claim.
Please contact Truck Wreck Justice at (866) 580-4878 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation. We handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you’ll only pay fees or case expenses if and when we achieve a monetary award or settlement on your behalf.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2016, April 15). Large truck and bus crash facts 2014. Washington, DC: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2014
The six most dangerous holidays to be on the road. (2014, November 19). American Safety Council. Retrieved from http://blog.americansafetycouncil.com/six-most-dangerous-holidays-to-be-on-the-road/