While all car accidents are dangerous, truck accidents can be especially deadly due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that truck accident fatalities in 2019 increased despite state and national efforts to improve road safety.
With COVID-19 placing an added strain on the truckers who transport the goods we rely on, there’s reason to believe that 2020 could see even higher levels of truck accident fatalities.
At Lapeze & Johns, we know that staying informed is essential to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe on the road, which is why learning how COVID-19 may be affecting fellow drivers and truck drivers sharing the road with you all the more necessary. If you have the misfortune of being involved in a truck accident in Texas, a Houston Truck Accident Attorney can help you seek any compensation for which you may be eligible.
Truck Accidents on the Rise, Nationally and Statewide
The NHTSA report on car accidents in 2019 showed improvement across most types of car accident fatalities. Between 2018 and 2019, driver fatalities decreased 3%, passenger fatalities were down 4%, pedestrian fatalities fell by a percentage point, etc. However, there were two statistics that saw an increase in that same time: fatalities involving trucks, and fatalities involving drivers over 65.
The cause for both statistics may be similar. Each year, a large portion of the U.S. population turns 65 or older. Similarly, according to data gathered by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of trucks registered in the U.S. has also been on the rise in recent years.
In Texas, the rise in truck accident crashes between 2018 and 2019 was on par with the national increase in the fatalities of these sorts of accidents. In 2018, there were 37,609 crashes involving commercial vehicles, meaning crashes involving trucks and other large cargo vehicles. In 2019, that number rose to 39,193, an increase of roughly 1%.
Trucking and COVID-19
While hard data is limited at this time, there is reason to believe that truck accident crashes are likely on the rise in 2020. In fact, there was a 14% increase in car accident fatalities per mile driven in March, at the peak of any national lockdown measures that have been enacted. This rise happened despite a nearly 19% decrease in total miles driven compared to the previous year.
Experts theorize that, as the roads empty, drivers are being less cautious and are thus more likely to crash. It’s possible that this trend is affecting truckers just as much as other drivers.
Beyond the overall increased likelihood of a crash, there are other reasons to suspect that COVID-19 could be disportionately affecting truckers when it comes to road safety. There’s no question that this pandemic has brought with it a drop in in-person purchases and a surge in online shopping and deliveries.
At the same time as this increase in demand, truckers are constantly exposed to the risks innate to in-person drop-offs during a pandemic. Like the rest of us, truckers are facing a massive amount of stress that could negatively impact their driving abilities, either through reduced sleep or distractions.
However, it would be wrong to place the blame for this added danger on the truckers themselves. Only 11% of truck drivers in the U.S. are self-employed. The remaining 90% work for carriers or shipping companies who arguably have a large amount of control over the working conditions of their drivers.
For instance, shipping companies may overload a trucker with cargo, making controlling the truck and trailer more difficult and more dangerous. In crunch times, some trucking companies may skip certain safety protocols in order to meet tight deadlines.
Tight deadlines can also result in more aggressive driving and more reckless behavior on the road. Inexperienced drivers may also be rushed onto the road in order to avoid shortfalls in the shipping company’s workforce, leading to a much higher risk that an accident will occur.
Lapeze & Johns: Houston Truck Accident Attorneys Always Looking Out For You
According to data gathered by The New York Times, COVID-19 cases in Texas are on the rise. In fact, officials in Harris county recently sent alerts to residents asking them to cancel family gatherings. Texas appears to be in a second wave of cases, a situation with the potential to become even more dire as winter hits. With that in mind, the roadway dangers posed by this pandemic are also likely far from over.
At Lapeze & Johns, we want to take this time to let our clients know that they are our first priority, and we will take every precaution necessary to keep our clients safe. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Texas, you don’t have to face the uncertainty of a court battle or insurance negotiation alone. The Houston car accident attorneys of Lapeze & Johns would be proud to represent you.