It is a well known fact that the odds of you, your car, truck or SUV winning in an interstate battle with an 18-wheeler are slim to none. So far in September, Kentucky has seen the effects of semi-truck accidents when an I-64 accident killed a Mt. Sterling man, and a Daviess County woman was struck on Audubon Parkway on the same day. But most people may be unaware of why these accidents are happening in the first place. We all know that foul weather, icy roads, alcohol are often catalysts precipitating car and truck accidents, and for the most part, most drivers often increase their efforts to avoiding the road during these times.
So it may surprise you to learn in 2002 71% of truck accidents in Kentucky occurred in good weather and on dry roads, 75% occurred during the daytime and 88% on weekdays when driving is part of the daily routine. In fact, there were no contributing weather conditions at all in 78.6% of Kentucky truck accidents.
So if bad weather isn’t causing the wreck, what gives?
One of the top reasons for accidents is driver fatigue which can lead to dozing off or distraction related accidents in Kentucky and across the nation. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “truck drivers behind the wheel for more than 8 hours had a twofold increase in crash risk…truckers’ long work hours cause sleep deprivation, disruption of normal sleep/rest cycles and fatigue.” Despite this statistic, in 2004 a new federal work rule went into effect allowing truck drivers to drive for up to 11 hours per day. And this was an improvement over the previous rule! The new rule’s goal was to improve safety but the Institute's survey showed the opposite as truckers are using new provisions to squeeze even more driving hours into the week. Just see this blog post by a real trucker who seeks to unveil the truth behind the profession.
And the driving force in money! Truck drivers drive more hours to get deliveries dropped off faster which then leads to more deliveries and essentially more money and higher satisfaction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver fatigue is responsible for an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1500 deaths each year.
Let’s put two and two together. Sleepy truck drivers plus sleepy car drivers equal accidents. Not to say that there aren’t a plentiful variety of other reasons causing truck accidents, but this is a factor each of us can control to some degree. I know that if there was one thing that could prevent me from being in an accident, I would make sure to keep it in mind. Perhaps being alert and awake can help us recognize and avoid other drowsy drivers. So get more sleep!