A new look at truck accident risk factors

Fatalities in truck accidents are a serious problem in California. One study shows how the ratio of trucks to other vehicles can impact these crashes.

Southern California roads and highways see a large amount of traffic involving a wide variety of vehicle types. Being a commerce hub, semi-trucks, tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles commonly share the road with passenger vehicles. Past research has investigated what can influence the likelihood that a truck accident may occur.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published results of a 2007 study on this very topic. In looking at crashes involving vehicles with a gross weight exceeding 10,000 pounds, they grouped risk factors into different categories.

Identified as critical factors in truck crashes were performance, decision, recognition and non-performance. Not properly signaling and overcompensating are examples of performance factors. Using poor judgement and exceeding the speed limit are types of decision factors. Distracted driving is an example of a recognition factor. Suffering an incident like a heart attack or something else that results in a disability while driving is an example of a non-performance factor.

New research focuses on traffic volumes and speed

A more recent study conducted by Taylor and Francis in 2013 shines a light on the dangers posed by the volume of trucks on a road at any given time. As Science Daily reports, the risk of a fatal truck crash goes up as the percent of trucks on the road relative to other vehicles also goes up. In fact, the crash risk increase is greater than the increase in the truck volume. In other words, a one percent increase in truck volume corresponds to an increased truck accident risk by more than one percent.

The Taylor and Francis report also highlights the danger that speed poses. The chance that a fatal truck accident could happen doubles when a truck driver travels at a speed beyond 45 miles per hour. In addition, speed is noted to be associated with more severe accident outcomes than other factors. When a trucker maneuvers poorly, damage to property is the greater risk. When a trucker speeds, serious injury is a greater risk.

California's truck accident realities

NHTSA data shows the following for the state of California:

  • In 2013, there were 243 deaths in large truck accidents.
  • In 2012, there were 261 deaths in large truck accidents.
  • In 2011, there were 282 deaths in large truck accidents.
  • In 2010, there were 236 deaths in large truck accidents.
  • In 2009, there were 275 deaths in large truck accidents.

Science Daily notes that approximately 4,500 fatalities each year in the U.S. are attributed to large truck accidents.

How can victims get help?

Compensation for property damage, injury and more can all be needed after a truck accident occurs. Victims or their loved ones are encouraged to work with an experienced attorney for help in receiving the right level of compensation.