Trucking Accident Death Rates Vary Greatly from State to State

By March 15, 2007Highway Safety

Truck crashes according to a report from the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, are the deadliest in Wyoming and Arkansas. Missouri and Illinois are in the middle of the pack in terms of death rates compared ot other states. Wyoming has about 6.09 deaths in big truck crashes per 100,000 residents with Arkansas at about 4.17 deaths per 100,000 residents. There are approximately 100 deaths per week nation-wide as a result of truck accidents, and various consumer organizations are calling for tougher federal regulations to reduce fatalities.
Certain consumer advocates believe that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which was created in 1999 is not doing as much as it can to improve the safety of trucks. They believe that the FMCSA is putting cargo or business interest over the safety of people. The agency was created in 1999 and that year 5,380 people were killed in crashes with big trucks. As of 2005, that figure was only reduced marginally with 5,212 people killed in truck crashes in 2005.
The primary push on the FMCSA is to reduce the hours that truckers are allowed to drive without rest, increase safety inspections of big trucks, and require on-board electronic monitors to ensure compliance with hours of service rules and train drivers better.
The United States Government’s priorities are skewed regarding the death toll from truck crashes. For example, while 61 people die from e-coli infections each year, the government spends millions of dollars on food safety. The death toll of 61 people from e-coli infections is the equivalent to the 4 day death toll from truck crashes. While the government uses every resource available to stop an e-coli outbreak, unsafe tractor trailers and large trucks kill and maim tens of thousands of people each year. In spite of this carnage on the highways, the FMCSA increased the number of hours a driver can operate by 28% since 2003 up to as much as 88 hours over an 8 day driving period.
As I have written before, the hours of service that truckers are allowed to drive without rest should be decreased and on-board electronic monitoring should be the rule and the not the exception. As anyone who has ever driven on a highway with a large truck behind them, no one want a driver following them that is fatigued from driving excess hours or allowed to falsify his logs because there is no effective law to monitor or audit their hours of service log entries. The current administration, clearly favors profits of big trucking companies over safety and until a more consumer oriented administration is in place, I am afraid this will continue.