Niagara Gazette

Opinion

June 17, 2014

CONFER: America has a trucking crisis

Niagara Gazette — Because a Hollywood star was critically injured in an accident caused by a tractor trailer, the public conversation has turned to road safety and how big trucks fit into that equation. Never mind that beyond Tracy Morgan’s high-profile crash there are 500,000 accidents with tractor trailers every year in which an average of 11 people die each day. 

Although those are incredibly high numbers, they don’t tell the whole story. A majority of the accidents are not the fault of the truck driver — 60 percent are caused by the drivers of the other vehicles and their bad judgment. My commute takes me through major trucking routes, so I see that in spades. From drivers tailgating trailers to many more who pull out in front of trucks under the foolish thinking that such a big vehicle really can’t be going 55, I often wonder why there aren’t more accidents.

But this doesn’t mean the industry is without fault. Forty percent of the accidents, 200,000 a year, are the direct result of truck driver error or faulty equipment. Of those, 13 percent (26,000) are attributed to fatigue, the cause du jour of the press as it was the reason behind the accident that nearly killed Morgan. The leading contributor to truck accidents is prescription drugs (twice as many as are fatigue-related crashes).

Now, combine both of those factors with a seemingly unrelated statistic – the average age of a commercial driver is 55 – and you can piece together a puzzle that highlights a safety and economic crisis in the trucking industry.

Fatigue is a result of overwork. Federal law allows for 70 hours of driving a week, which many drivers want to – or are forced to – take (the average workweek is 58 hours).

Prescription drug use is more common among older people, which is why that causal factor of collisions is so high. It’s a direct outcome of the older workforce in the industry.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page