And the trucking industry would like to scale back safety regulations
The number of truck accidents resulting in death rose 8 percent in 2015, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The number of truck crash fatalities in California was second only to Texas.
Indications are that 2016 and 2017 will prove to be even more deadly. More vehicles, traveling more miles. Drivers – including truckers – more distracted. And the Trump administration may scale back trucking regulations, such as the Hours of Service limit that keeps drowsy truck drivers off the road.
The trend of deadly truck crashes will likely get worse
After dipping to a low of 3,380 in 2009, U.S. trucking fatalities have been climbing again in recent years. In 2015, bus and truck accidents claimed 4,096 lives, including 296 killed here in California. That was an 8 percent jump from the previous year. In all, the FMCSA tallied 415,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks and buses – about one-fifth resulting in fatality or injury.
Preliminary figures show overall traffic deaths rose again in 2016, with truck deaths rising even faster. And the trend may get even worse in 2017:
- There are a record number of cars and trucks on the road (260 million).
- Total miles driven in the U.S. are at an all-time high (3 trillion).
- Despite bans, millions of drivers (including truck drivers) engage in texting while driving and other dangerous distractions.
- The trucking lobby is hoping that President Trump deregulates the industry. In particular, truckers chafe at proposed speed limits for trucks and the rule that limits how many hours they can drive in a day or in one week. Easing these regulations could put other motorists at risk.
California has some of the strictest trucking laws in the country, but also the largest economy. It takes thousands of large trucks and buses to move all those goods and people. When that many trucks and cars share the road, truck accidents are inevitable. Hopefully, technology improvements and safety education will halt or reverse the trend of severe and fatal truck crashes.