Accidents involving 18 wheelers and other large trucks can cause a great deal of injury and even death to passengers riding in smaller vehicles. According to the National Safety Council, more than 5,000 people died in such crashes in 2019, with 10% of those wrecks involving 18 wheelers.
While distracted driving and speeding often play a role in semi-truck crashes, several other factors affect when and where these accidents take place.
1. Travel on rural roadways
Most drivers may assume that many big rig crashes take place on freeways and in urban settings with heavy traffic volumes. However, the opposite stands true. Big rig drivers tend to experience accidents on rural roadways instead of freeways, and factors such as narrow roads and limited lighting along rural roads may contribute to such crashes.
2. Extended daytime driving
Some drivers exceed the limits of how many hours they can stay behind the wheel, and in many cases, driving during the overnight hours causes daytime fatigue. As a result, more big rig accidents happen in the daylight hours when some truckers put off sleep to reach their delivery goals.
3. Seasonal factors
Changes in weather and daylight patterns can affect semi-truck drivers and cause an increase in both fatal and non-fatal crashes. Winter weather and poor visibility can result in jackknifed rigs, and slippery roads make it difficult for truckers to brake in time to avoid striking other vehicles.
The number of injuries caused by big rig accidents rose nearly 45% over the past decade. Increased driver training and programs that reward careful drivers may help lower these numbers in the future.