Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

June 16, 2014

CONFER:

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Because a Hollywood star was critically injured in an accident caused by a tractor trailer, the public conversation has turned to road safety and how big trucks fit into that equation. Never mind that beyond Tracy Morgan’s high-profile crash there are 500,000 accidents with tractor trailers every year in which an average of 11 people die each day. 

Although those are incredibly high numbers, they don’t tell the whole story. A majority of the accidents are not the fault of the truck driver — 60 percent are caused by the drivers of the other vehicles and their bad judgment. My commute takes me through major trucking routes, so I see that in spades. From drivers tailgating trailers to many more who pull out in front of trucks under the foolish thinking that such a big vehicle really can’t be going 55, I often wonder why there aren’t more accidents.

But this doesn’t mean the industry is without fault. Forty percent of the accidents, 200,000 a year, are the direct result of truck driver error or faulty equipment. Of those, 13 percent (26,000) are attributed to fatigue, the cause du jour of the press as it was the reason behind the accident that nearly killed Morgan. The leading contributor to truck accidents is prescription drugs (twice as many as are fatigue-related crashes).

Now, combine both of those factors with a seemingly unrelated statistic – the average age of a commercial driver is 55 – and you can piece together a puzzle that highlights a safety and economic crisis in the trucking industry.

Fatigue is a result of overwork. Federal law allows for 70 hours of driving a week, which many drivers want to – or are forced to – take (the average workweek is 58 hours).

Prescription drug use is more common among older people, which is why that causal factor of collisions is so high. It’s a direct outcome of the older workforce in the industry.

Text Only
Opinion
Featured Ads
Photos


Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Front page
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Seasonal Content
Helium debate
Helium
Section Teases

Seasonal Content
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.