If you’ve ever broken into a cold sweat or noticed that your heart is beating a mile per minute when you have to share the road with a commercial delivery truck, it’s understandable. After all, some of those vehicles are considerably larger, not to mention heavier, than the cars, light trucks, and SUVs they share the roads with, which means they are capable of causing significantly more damage if they are ever involved in an accident. And because so many of them are on the roads, accidents do happen. For reference, a study published by the American Trucking Association revealed approximately 39 million trucks registered and used for business were traversing America’s roads in 2020. That same year, some 439,000 of them were involved in police-reported traffic crashes, according to a separate study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Delivery Truck Accidents and Fatalities: The Truth About What Happens on America’s Roads
Sometimes, traffic accidents involving delivery trucks don’t always cause property damage alone. Many people, especially those in passenger vehicles, lose their lives in those accidents. According to NHTSA, in 2020, around 71% or about 5,000 people killed in accidents involving large delivery truck crashes were occupants in passenger vehicles, and 10% were pedestrians or bicyclists. It is also worth noting that nearly 150,000 people suffered injuries in these collisions. Since we are on the topic, some of the individuals driving those commercial trucks had numerous prior traffic offenses and probably should never have been behind the wheel in the first place. Available data shows drivers of large commercial trucks involved in fatal traffic accidents in 2020 had more previous crashes than drivers of other vehicles. The same data further revealed that many drivers involved in these accidents were driving or had a history of driving under the influence.
DUI and Traffic Infraction Statistics Involving Commercial Delivery Truck Drivers
When someone drives irresponsibly or, worse yet, drives while under the influence, they put everyone who shares the road with them in danger. Unfortunately, some drivers who drive delivery trucks, most of which are larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road, do both. In 2017, there were 10,874 fatalities from crashes in which drivers had a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. Of those 10,874 fatalities from crashes, 3% involved commercial truck drivers. And this is important since a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measuring 0.04% is considered drunk driving for commercial truck drivers. But consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel is not the only thing these drivers are guilty of doing. Many are taking stimulants to help keep them awake during long-haul driving jobs. That’s according to a study published by Reuters. The study revealed 3% of truck drivers use cocaine before getting behind the wheel, and 20% use marijuana, which is both a stimulant and a depressant. The kind of damage a large delivery truck can cause, especially when they’re involved in a crash due to someone operating them while impaired, is profound, notes an attorney with Haney Paschal & Romoser, a full-service law firm in Huntsville, Texas.
The Consequences of Impaired Driving
When drivers of commercial trucks are impaired, they are more likely to make a mistake while driving, which makes accidents more likely. According to personal injury attorneys, not to mention statistics from multiple hospital emergency rooms across the country, individuals involved in those accidents often suffer some pretty traumatic injuries. Some of the most common ones include the following:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries, such as a punctured lung, kidney damage, or internal bleeding
- Neck and back injuries
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Many of these same injuries can also occur when drivers of delivery trucks don’t comply with traffic laws. And many drivers are guilty of just that, according to NHTSA. In 2020, the agency found that over 7% of drivers involved in crashes had previous license suspensions or revocations on their driving history at the time of the crash. That’s especially noteworthy since drivers who have had their license suspended or revoked are 14% more likely to be involved in an accident, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
When Do Most Accidents Involving Delivery Trucks Happen?
Something especially noteworthy as it relates to accidents involving delivery trucks is they tend to happen more frequently at certain times of the day and on certain days of the week. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the deadliest crashes happen between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The agency further notes that between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. is when most truck accidents peak. And midnight to 3:00 a.m. is when they are the least likely to occur. As far as on what days most accidents involving delivery trucks happen, Monday through Friday are pretty busy. However, Thursdays are undoubtedly the most active in terms of sheer volume. The NHTSA notes Thursdays account for 18 percent of all trucking accidents that end in fatalities. The reason for this, it says, is Thursday is the day when goods needed for the weekend tend to arrive at their destinations, and that means more trucks have to take to the roads to deliver them. And with more trucks out and about, the greater the risk of accidents involving those trucks happening.
What Causes the Most Accidents When It Comes to Delivery Trucks?
Overcrowded roadways, distracted and careless driving, and driving while under the influence are the primary contributors to accidents involving commercial delivery trucks, but they are not the only ones. Mechanical failure in the form of malfunctioning brakes, shotty suspension systems, and even worn tires can increase the chances of a commercial truck being in a crash. With many drivers driving anywhere from 60 to 70 hours per week, fatigue can also be a factor. Sometimes, it comes down to poor roads or poor weather conditions.
How To Stay Safe While Driving Near Large Delivery Trucks
Whether commuting to and from work, driving our kids to and from school, or running errands, there is a good chance most of us will eventually find ourselves sharing the road with a large delivery truck. That said, there are several things we can all do to stay safe when sharing the roads with these vehicles that often outweigh most cars, light trucks, and SUVs by thousands of pounds, some of which include
Avoiding Blind Spots
By definition, a blind spot, in the context of driving, refers to an area on the road that is outside the driver’s field of vision, meaning it’s not visible in their rearview or side mirrors. Drivers in a passenger vehicle would do best to stay out of a delivery truck’s blind spot when they are on the road with them. Remaining at least 10 feet behind such trucks while driving is an excellent way to do just that. Plus, doing so keeps you in plain sight when a delivery truck driver checks their rearview or side-view mirror before changing lanes, turning into a business, or pulling off the road.
Using Turn Signals
Maneuvering a large commercial truck takes more time, space, and effort than a smaller passenger vehicle. Using turn signals when switching lanes or turning at a light allows drivers operating them to see you and recognize your intentions so that they can make adjustments as needed.
Allowing Extra Space
Allowing enough space between yourself and other vehicles on the road is always a good idea from a safety standpoint. Large delivery trucks are, of course, no exception. According to the American Trucking Association and several other trucking organizations, keeping a safe distance away from large commercial trucks, whether it be on the highway or regular roads, ensures you will have enough time to brake or swerve out of the way if those trucks suddenly stop or do something else unexpected.
In addition to sometimes being enormous, most delivery trucks tend to move slowly, which, from a safety standpoint, most would agree is a good thing. But sometimes, they move so slowly that individuals stuck in a passenger vehicle behind or alongside them grow impatient and do things in haste that they eventually regret. Some of the more notable ones include cutting them off in traffic, following too closely, and passing them unsafely. These actions can and often do lead to traffic accidents.
Modern-day conveniences make it easy to get distracted on the road, especially smartphones, which sometimes have multiple notifications flashing on the screen and ringing out loud. In the seconds it takes for someone to check those notifications, they could find themselves in an accident with a delivery truck or another vehicle on the road. The same applies to calling or sending a quick text to a friend or family member. Of course, smartphones are not the only thing that can cause us to become distracted and increase our risk of being in an accident involving a delivery truck. Studies show the following can have the same effect:
- Adjusting the radio, power seats, sunroof, or other vehicle features
- Conversing with passengers in the vehicle
- Eating or drinking
- Reaching for an item in the backseat
- Using a GPS device
Adjusting Your Headlights
If you drive at night, lowering your high beams when you see a delivery truck approaching is another excellent way to prevent a crash. According to one study, 12% to 15% of car crash fatalities are the result of high-beam headlights having been shined onto oncoming traffic at night. When it comes to large delivery trucks, those high beams from passenger vehicles often blind drivers due to how they reflect off the truck’s driver and passenger side mirrors. That said, if the driver of a delivery truck can’t see, they are more likely to be involved in an accident.
What Should You Do if You’re in an Accident With a Delivery Truck?
Unfortunately, despite taking every precaution, accidents sometimes still happen. If you are a victim of a crash involving a delivery truck, there are things you will want to do to ensure you receive the care you need and the compensation you deserve. And they include
Call the police – Calling the police is critical for insurance purposes and filing a compensation claim. When officers arrive on the scene of a truck crash, they conduct an investigation and fill out a detailed crash report, which lists the parties involved, the extent of the property damage, injuries, and factors that may have contributed to the crash.
Collect evidence -Much like a crash report, victims of a crash involving a delivery truck should collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible. That evidence should include photographs of the damaged vehicles, the name of the delivery company, skid marks on the ground, and so on. Evidence collected along with a police report helps establish liability, which is critical in filing a compensation claim and being awarded damages.
Notify your insurance – It’s best to notify your car insurance provider as soon as possible following a crash involving a delivery truck. Waiting too long could hurt your chance of winning a personal injury lawsuit should you decide to pursue one.
Seek medical attention – Even if you otherwise feel okay, you should seek medical attention following a crash with a delivery truck. A physician can check for internal injuries, a concussion, whip-lash and other injuries that are not always immediately apparent. And if injuries are confirmed, they can help establish a link between those injuries and the crash.
Contact an attorney – If you intend to file a compensation claim following a crash involving a delivery truck, it pays to have an attorney well-versed in personal injury law in your corner. And it is a good idea to hire one before the statute of limitations is up. Per Texas law, the statute of limitations for filing a compensation claim for a crash involving injuries is two years from the day of the accident.
In summary, sharing the roadway with large delivery trucks is a necessary evil for most people. And doing so sometimes leads to a crash that turns their lives upside down. If you have had the misfortune of being involved in such a crash, consider scheduling a consultation with a Haney Paschal & Romoser personal injury attorney today.