A new report from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety reveals some disturbing driving trends in 2020. Traffic fatality rates continue to climb in many parts of the United States. It appears that the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent onslaught of stay-at-home orders, has led to an increase in fatal accidents involving speeding. Similarly, distracted driving accidents increased in many areas. At the same time, seat belt use decreased among drivers.
The report also reveals some alarming data about truck accidents. In 2019, auto accidents involving large trucks injured 159,000 people and killed another 5,000. These numbers represent a 48 percent increase in the number of fatal truck accidents since 2009. It also represents an 18 percent increase in truck accidents causing injuries.
Truck Accident Statistics in Georgia
Georgia also has a high rate of truck accidents. After several years of declining, the rate of truck accidents has now been increasing for the past several years. In 2012, there were 153 fatal truck accidents in Georgia. In 2016, there were 179. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists two main contributing factors to these truck accidents: driver error and vehicle or environmental factors.
Driver error includes behaviors, such as:
- Falling asleep while driving
- Inattention to the road (daydreaming)
- Distracted driving
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Following too closely
It is also considered driver error if the truck driver is not properly trained or does not have the proper skills to operate the truck.
Vehicle or Environmental Factors
Vehicle or environmental factors are things most often outside the control of the truck driver. Vehicle-related causes of truck accidents include mechanical or part failure, such as:
- Brake failure
- Steering failure
- Tire or wheel failure
- Shifting cargo
- Suspension system failure
Environmental factors can also contribute to truck accidents, especially if combined with driver error. Examples of environmental factors include:
- Road design, such as curves or steepness
- Slick roadways due to ice, snow, or rain
- Debris in the roadway
- Wind gusts
These factors are worsened when driver error is a factor.
Safety Tips from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
In response to disturbing data, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have made recommendations to safety officials and lawmakers. They are calling on the incoming administration to prioritize automobile and roadway safety. Their strategies include 390 new laws designed to mitigate the dangerous trends emerging on U.S. roadways.
Their report also includes 16 recommendations divided into five categories:
- Occupant protection
- Child passenger safety
- Graduated driver licensing (GDL)
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
Safety experts believe that improving safety technology on large trucks, such as emergency braking and speed limiting devices, could reduce truck accident incidents. The organization also urges for more strict training and inspection guidelines to ensure that trucks and their drivers are as safe as possible.
One Piece of the Highway Safety Puzzle
Just as truck accidents account for a percentage of the overall number of auto accidents, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report and recommendations for improving safety represent only one piece of the safety puzzle. As suggested by a truck accident lawyer in Atlanta, GA, all drivers must do their part to be safe behind the wheel – no matter what size vehicle they are driving.