California’s truck drivers have a duty to exercise caution behind the wheel, but research shows that the number of people dying in crashes with commercial trucks across the state and nation is on the rise. The uptick in truck-crash-related road deaths raises questions about what might be contributing to the increase and what safety advocates, transportation officials and fleet owners might do to make roads safer.
According to Trucking Info, the number of fatal commercial truck wrecks that took place nationwide increased by 13% in 2021 compared to the year prior.
How often tractor-trailer crashes prove fatal
In 2020, 4,965 people died in crashes involving commercial trucks. The following year, there were 5,601 such fatalities. Furthermore, fatalities from truck wrecks rose during nine out of 12 months of the year, falling only during January, February and October.
What causes many of today’s commercial truck wrecks
Many of today’s truck crashes involve similar factors, and many of those factors involve human error. Truckers who drive while fatigued, or truck drivers who drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, often contribute to fatal truck accidents. Sometimes, other elements, such as air brake failure, come into play. Sometimes, a truck’s air brakes fail because there is something faulty within the brake system. Other times, they fail because the truck driver does something that causes them to do so, such as overuse them when traveling down steep hills.
While road deaths involving commercial trucks are rising, so, too, are other types of traffic fatalities. The number of people who died on the nation’s roads rose more than 10% between 2020 and 2021.