Accidents involving large trucks injure or kill thousands of motorists each year. In 2012, the United States Department of Transportation recorded 333,000 accidents involving commercial trucks. These accidents injured 104,000 people, and cost the lives of 3,921 truck drivers, motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.
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As can be expected alcohol and illegal drugs are factors in many accidents, however, they are not the leading causes of accidents involving commercial trucks. In 2012, alcohol was cited as a causative factor in only .8% of all truck involved accidents. Similarly, illegal drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine were reported as a factor in just 2.3% of accidents.
Far more dangerous than drugs and alcohol were prescription drugs which caused 26% of accidents. Painkillers and sleeping aids are among the most dangerous as they can seriously impact a driver’s ability to maintain control over their vehicle as it cruises down the highway. Over the counter drugs were equally as dangerous and were cited in 17% of accidents. In both cases, the drugs consumed by drivers negatively affected their ability to maintain control over their vehicles as they cruised down the roadway. Combined, legal, prescription, and over the counter drugs were cited in nearly half of all truck involved accidents in 2012. Drivers taking these legal drugs cause accidents when they fail to properly follow directions and adhere to the safety guidelines printed clearly on the packaging.
Driving too fast for conditions including rain, snow, ice, and high winds caused 23% of accidents. In many of these instances, drivers attempting to meet tight delivery deadlines, beat traffic or oncoming weather, and simply rushing into an early weekend pose a considerable risk to motorists. In nearly 1/4 of all accidents, haste wasted far too many lives.
Driver’s haste is also a symptom of working conditions that push drivers to their absolute physical and mental limits. Thus, it’s not surprising that 13% of accidents were caused by driver fatigue and distraction. Drivers working longer hours, on longer hauls, are incapable of safely operating their vehicles as they become tired and less alert. As drivers lose attentiveness, the vehicles they operate become lethal weapons that Chicago truck accident attorneys know can easily cause serious injuries or fatalities. The remainder of truck accidents, 18% in total, were caused by a variety of factors including lax vehicle maintenance, obstructions in the roadway, weather conditions, aggressive driving, etc.