Most accidents involving large trucks don’t occur on interstate roads. America has over 2.7 million miles of paved, and nearly 1.4 million miles of unpaved roads. Of these, only 300,000 are part of the interstate system. Thus, there are plenty of non-interstate roads where trucks can have an accident. In fact, most truck accidents occur on rural roads, on city streets, in parking lots, and within loading docks.
In fact, only one in ten fatalities on the highway are caused by a semi-truck accident. In 2014, 3,660 people died in accidents involving large vehicles. Of these, 90% died on rural roads, city streets, and within parking lots and loading docks.
With up to 80% of consumer goods being transported by trucks into communities across the country, there is a considerable risk of accident and injuries. Indeed, of the 279 million road miles truckers drive every year, the most dangerous are those that involve the slower speeds and closer proximity of rural roads and city streets.
Truck accidents have many causes, including the following:
- Drowsy Driving. NHTSA data shows that falling asleep at the wheel was responsible for 1,500 deaths and nearly 40,000 injuries in 2014.
- Improper Loading. An improperly loaded semi-truck can become dangerously unstable as cargo shifts during transport. This can cause trucks to topple when turning or changing lanes.
- Driver Experience. There are nearly 3.5 million truck drivers in America. Each year, 115,000 new job openings arise. These positions are filled by drivers who lack the experience that years of driving creates. In 2014, truck driver fatalities rose to 835; their highest rate since 2008. This increase correlated with a large influx of new truck drivers.
- Narrow/Congested Streets. City streets place large trucks into close proximity with passenger vehicles. The proximity coupled with blind spots, stop-and-go traffic conditions, etc. increases the likelihood an accident will occur.
- Fixed Object Collisions. Up to 30% of truck accidents involve hitting fixed objects such as loading docks, parked cars, buildings, etc. Even at low speeds, Chicago truck accident attorneys know that these collisions can cause significant property damage and injuries.
- Weather. Non-interstate roads including rural roads and city streets can become impassable during bad weather. High winds, blowing snow, and flooding can create deadly conditions. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that weather is a contributing factor in up to 28% of large truck crashes.