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Preventable Truck Accidents

May 13, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

I was recently interviewed by WNEM Saginaw TV 5 News on the subject of truck accidents. Unfortunately, thousands of people are killed each year by trucks that shouldn’t be on the road. According to, “Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents FactBook 2008,” published by the Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics:

  • An average of about 5,061 trucks are involved in a fatal traffic accident each year.
  • An average of 362 pedestrians and 87 cyclists (bicycles, unicycles, tricycles) are killed each year in traffic accidents involving trucks.

While most studies indicate that deaths from truck accidents are on the decline, how can there still be so many people killed from truck accidents each year? Well, to understand that number we need to understand the most common causes of fatal truck accidents.

Published in 2006, the “Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) Analysis Series: Using LTCCS Data for Statistical Analyses of Crash Risk,” revealed some serious issues:

While each of these violation statistics by themselves are alarming, taken together, 66.1% of large trucks that were inspected as part of this study had pre-crash violations.

I encourage you to review the data for yourself.

The truth is, we know what causes truck accidents. It’s unsafe trucks. It’s driver safety issues. But those are symptoms of a different problem. You see, we have regulations in place designed to protect against some of the most common causes of truck accidents related to safety and maintenance. The problem is that when trucking companies feel an economic pinch, safety and maintenance are often the easiest things to cut to help out their bottom line.

Of course, by taking these short-cuts, they’re gambling with the lives of of other drivers. But they’re also hedging their bets. They fight against changes like black box EOBRs which could help improve truck safety.

Trucking companies are quick to argue that safety and maintenance regulations go too far and prevent them from being able to run their businesses profitably. But even families of victims of truck accidents understand that there’s a balance to be struck. The problem is that, like with other industries driven by profit, the scale is outrageously tilted for the benefit of the companies against protecting drivers who share the roads with dangerous trucks and truck drivers.

As reported by WNEM in the video above: 1 out of 5 trucks on the road are in out of service condition.

20% of the trucks on the road are, in other words, so dangerous and so unsafe, that they can’t even be driven to be repaired. They have to be towed. Next time you are driving in your car with your family and you see a truck behind you, consider that there is a 1 in 5 chance that the brakes or tires or the steering of that truck behind you are so bad that it can’t even be driven to be repaired.

Russian Roulette on Michigan roads, anyone?

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