Tennessee doesn’t have the worst truck accident injury statistics, but that’s nothing to celebrate. Every truck accident is potentially tragic for drivers, occupants and their families. Truck accidents may be fewer in number than auto accidents, but that’s just because there are far more cars on the road than trucks. Truck accidents are by far and away more dangerous than auto accidents in terms of serious injuries and fatalities.
Statistics from 2014 show that there is a strong correlation between predominantly rural states with low populations, high truck traffic numbers and the rate of fatal truck accidents. States like North Dakota and Wyoming have four times the fatal truck accident rate per head of population than Tennessee and eight times the national average. At 1.69 fatal accidents a year per head of population Tennessee is in the upper half of the national fatal truck accident statistics, but only just.
Fatal traffic accidents in Tennessee have begun to rise again, according to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO). Their most up to date statistics are only until 2019 and do not show differences between auto and truck accident data, but the high point of fatalities was back in 2003/4 when there were 1,339 fatal accidents on state roads recorded. That declined up to the period between 2011 and 2015, when there were between 930 and 960 fatalities each year. Regrettably, the number has steadily risen in recent years with 1,148 fatalities recorded in 2019. There have also been 180 fatality reports so far this year, up from 167 at the same time last year.
The THSO office does give a few pointers to what’s happening in Tennessee. Alcohol related fatalities have definitely been trending downwards; accidents due to distracted driving have been trending upwards.
Trucks are the major cause of fatal traffic accidents
The focus on fatal traffic accidents is because the number of fatal accidents caused by eighteen wheelers and other large trucks is by far the highest – 72% of all fatal accidents according to insurance company data. There is no reason to think that Tennessee has any better figures than this. 97% of people who are killed in car/ truck collisions are drivers and passengers in the cars, not truck drivers. That means that if you are involved in a truck accident anywhere in Tennessee and you survive, the chances are you will have a serious injury.
Don’t expect the trucking company to be sympathetic if a serious accident happens. Trucking companies put their own commercial interests first and that includes denying any responsibility for causing the accident. You will need a first rate truck accident attorney to help you pursue a personal injury claim against the drive and trucking company if you have the slightest belief that the truck driver or the truck’s mechanics were at fault. The sooner the crash case is investigated the better, as trucking companies have been known to remove or destroy evidence of fault after a serious accident.
Causes of truck accidents
The THSO data may point to an increase in distracted driving, but insurance data actually shows that mechanical faults, especially tires and brakes, are the cause of 30% of truck accidents. When maintenance schedules are delayed or ignored, these important components of a truck are more likely to deteriorate. Both the truck driver and the company may be to blame for poor maintenance.
In addition to mechanical faults, fatigue, poor training, unfamiliarity with local road conditions, aggressive driving and speeding are all important causes of truck crashes. There is a lot of pressure on truck drivers to get their load to the point of delivery as fast as possible, although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does its best to make sure that truck drivers do not drive any more than 14 hours in a row with mandatory 8 hour breaks.
It doesn’t take too much imagination to speculate how significant the enormous weight of a typical eighteen wheeler can make when traveling at speed. More than half of truck accidents do not occur on major multi lane highways and freeways, but on single lane rural roads.
Contact a dedicated truck accident attorney as soon as you can after a serious truck accident
Involvement in a serious truck accident is for most car drivers a nightmare scenario. Most truck accidents are due to poor maintenance and truck driver error. If you, or a loved one, have been a victim of a truck accident, you should contact a dedicated and experienced truck accident attorney at the Keith Williams Law Group in Lebanon TN.