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The cost of offsetting one truck accident for motor carriers? A cool $1.25 million

June 14, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Hopefully with  pocketbooks in mind, truck companies will crack down on texting drivers and stop looking the other way

cost of truck accident

The law is clear: Truck and bus drivers throughout the country are prohibited from using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel.

The law prohibiting truckers and bus drivers from using hand held cell phones is not a new law – it into effect in December 2011. But that doesn’t mean truck drivers have stopped using cell phones.

Consider these tragic examples, such as the truck driver who hit and killed a police officer that was pulled over on the side of the road, as he surfed Facebook photos of “scantily clad women” on his cell phone, according to published reports. Or the trucker who killed a young mother in a wreck as he cruised along watching porn on his cell phone.

A truck accident is far more likely to occur if the driver is driving distracted, such as by using his cell phone.   According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

  • Commercial truck drivers reaching for a cell phone are three times more likely to be involved in a truck crash or other safety-critical event.
  • Dialing a hand-held cell phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be in a truck accident.

As an attorney, I help prevent truck accidents, but unfortunately that’s after tragic truck wrecks have occurred and people are already hurt and killed.  I’ve lectured to other attorneys and strongly believe that by bringing civil lawsuits and engaging in discovery that exposes every single safety violation that was committed and that led to an injury or death, we’re creating examples for truck companies to follow.

But I’d be the first to say that it would be better for everyone if these accidents and deaths could be prevented entirely before they ever reach an attorney. True truck accident prevention has to start with the trucking company committing to safety.

Problem is, far too many safety managers turn a blind eye to dangerous behavior or even encourage it. They often even hire truckers who had have terrible safety records pocked with other accidents, as these drivers cost less to employ and are more likely to break the rules at the behest of trucking companies. These motor carriers are focused on  a bigger bottom line at the expense of safety and protecting the public, even when it means ignoring or violating mandatory safety rules to do so.

For such dangerous truck companies, maybe accident prevention will resonate more if they know it will benefit their pocket books:

Simply offsetting the cost of a $25,000 crash (e.g. cargo, vehicle damage, medical and injury costs) would require an additional $1.25 million in revenues at a profit margin of 2%, according to numbers from the Department of Transportation  (US DOT, FMCSA Accident Cost Table).

Here’s a blog post I wrote about a device that actually stops truck drivers from texting.

Might be wise for truck companies to invest in this device. If their priority isn’t saving lives, then maybe saving money will push them to do the right thing.

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