Why Is Truck Driving A Dangerous Job?

Table of Contents

    Truck driving is widely considered one of the most dangerous jobs. The perils of operating these massive vehicles extend far beyond the highway. Aside from the risk of catastrophic accidents, truck drivers face unique challenges that threaten their physical and mental well-being.

    Long hours spent behind the wheel, dealing with unpredictable weather and tough road conditions under tight deadlines, and balancing work and family can create immense physical strain. The isolation and demanding nature of the job can also take a toll on a driver’s mental and emotional health.

    According to USA Today, there are approximately 1,797,710 truck drivers in the U.S. These workers consistently face significant hazards while performing their daily tasks. In 2021, the industry fatality rate was 45.92 per 100,000 truck drivers, while non-fatal injuries occurred at 259.7 per 100,000 truck drivers. Various factors explain why this is the case.

    Why Is Driving Trucks Dangerous?

    Driving a vehicle as massive as a truck comes with several risks. One misstep could lead to a traumatic truck accident, which can cause severe injuries.

    In 2022, 5,837 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, marking a 1.8% increase from 2021 and a 49% increase in the last ten years. These accidents resulted in 5,936 fatalities, a 2% increase from 2021 and 49% in the last decade. Notably, only 19% of the victims were truck occupants, including truck drivers.

    Various factors can cause fatal truck accidents. Driver errors, such as fatigue, distraction, speeding, or driving under the influence, play a big role. Issues with the truck itself, such as improper maintenance or malfunctioning equipment, can also lead to accidents. Additionally, truck accident lawyers have also seen how external factors like bad weather, road conditions, and improperly secured cargo can contribute to a loss of control.

    Apart from the risk of motor vehicle collisions, a truck driver’s lifestyle makes them prone to developing serious work-related diseases, such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Long hours and irregular schedules can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to maintain healthy eating habits. Sitting for extended periods while driving provides little opportunity for physical activity.

    The list of dangers that truck drivers face is long. All these factors combined make driving 18-wheelers, Amazon trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, and other types of trucks a deadly occupation.

    The Dangers Truck Drivers Face

    With the convenience of online shopping and two-day shipping, people easily overlook how their orders reach them so easily. When we visit malls, we rarely consider how clothes end up on racks. We also pay little attention to how T-bone steaks get to meat coolers in supermarkets.

    Behind the scenes, commercial vehicle drivers work tirelessly to deliver goods to stores, establishments, and homes nationwide. Despite their important role in logistics, these essential workers face daily dangers due to the very vehicles they rely on.

    The fact of the matter is truck driving continues to rank among the most dangerous jobs in America. Here’s why:

    Trucks’ Design

    A truck's design seen clearly beside a mechanic

    Because of their inherent dynamics, trucks pose a significant danger to other road users. These towering vehicles can reach a maximum height of 14 feet and weigh anywhere from 10,000 pounds empty to a staggering 80,000 pounds fully loaded. In the unfortunate event of a collision between a truck and a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the car are at high risk of suffering severe injuries or even death.

    Trucks are also known to have a high ground clearance. The space underneath is enough to lodge and trap smaller cars during rear-end collisions, leading to underride or override accidents.

    Furthermore, trucks are typically much larger than regular passenger cars, especially 18-wheelers. As a result, they have multiple, wide blind spots where other motorists, especially motorcyclists, are often put in danger. When truck drivers fail to notice other vehicles in these areas, they will likely cause wide-turn and sideswipe accidents.

    Inexperienced Truck Drivers

    Today’s growing concern in the trucking industry is the increasing number of drivers with limited experience operating large vehicles. This trend is largely due to the challenges and shortages the industry faces.

    In 2022, truckload carriers with more than 1,000 trucks had a 58.9% turnover rate. Some experts attribute this situation to poor pay, long hours, and unpleasant working conditions. Additionally, many heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers take many days off. In 2022, they took an average of 23 days off due to injuries or sickness acquired on the job.

    To avoid disrupting their operations, many trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers to handle their deliveries. Unfortunately, these individuals are prone to making driving errors, putting their fellow road users at risk.

    Dangerous Roads

    Poorly maintained highways and freeways can make trucks even more difficult to maneuver, even when equipped with safety devices, thereby increasing the chance of truck accidents, especially in major cities like Los Angeles. The shipment can fall onto the road when cargo trucks encounter bumps and uneven pavement. If the weight of the load shifts, the vehicle might become unbalanced, making it more prone to rollover accidents. Additionally, sharing narrow spaces with other motorists increases the likelihood of truck collisions.

    Tired truck driver in California

    Long Driving Hours With Limited Rest

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set hours-of-service regulations that truck drivers in California and the rest of the country must follow. According to these rules, they can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty. They must also take a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours straight.

    Nevertheless, despite strict implementation, many truck drivers still work for extended periods to beat the clock and meet tight deadlines. Those who are paid on an hourly basis often work long hours to increase their earnings or qualify for incentives. Most truckers are torn between prioritizing safety and their livelihood. Many drivers ask themselves, “Should I drive more or take a break? ”

    Those who don’t follow the rules don’t get enough rest, resulting in fatigued driving. When they don’t overcome their drowsiness while still on the road, they are likely to cause traffic accidents and hurt themselves and other motorists.

    Lack Of Safety Features

    The lack of appropriate technology in trucks has also played a drastic role in truck accidents in California. These innovations serve as safety features that help drivers avoid dangerous situations. These devices could warn about potential collisions, alert drivers to blind spots, and help prevent other hazardous circumstances.

    Some examples are:

    • Driver alert systems
    • Electronic stability control
    • Forward collision warning and mitigation systems
    • Rear-view cameras

    Unfortunately, some trucks lack these safety technologies. As a result, truck drivers miss out on features that could dramatically improve road safety.

    Lifting And Jumping

    Truckers frequently engage in physically demanding tasks that involve repetitive motions, such as jumping out of their vehicles onto hard concrete. They also often lift heavy cargo as they load or unload their trucks. If they perform these tasks without proper precaution, they risk injuring their backs, necks, wrists, elbows, nerves, and muscles.

    California law entitles commercial drivers injured on the job to workers’ compensation benefits. This insurance coverage is provided by their employer. After an accident or work-related injury, truck drivers can receive:

    • Compensation for medical expenses
    • A portion of lost wages due to missed work
    • Payments in case of permanent disability
    • Supplemental job displacement benefits to help find alternative employment
    • Death benefits for the dependents of a deceased worker

    There are several exceptions to this system. Workers’ comp claims made by truck drivers may be denied if the accident happened off-duty, the driver was impaired, the crash was intentional, the driver outright violated a safety regulation, or the driver failed to report the accident within the allotted time limit or statute of limitation.

    Health Concerns Associated With Truck Driving

    Being a truck driver may seem attractive, given the freedom and adventure the open road offers. However, it also comes with health risks. The long hours spent sitting behind the wheel and the stationary nature of the job can adversely affect the driver’s physical and mental well-being.

    Here are some health concerns linked to truck driving:

    Physical Health

    Truckers usually have a higher bodily injury and fatality rate compared to other private occupations. Physical health problems are also common in this industry, especially with the type of work truckers handle.

    Unlike other jobs, driving trucks gives few opportunities for workers to engage in physical activity. It’s a sedentary job that requires truckers to sit for long hours with limited chances to stand and move around. Truck drivers typically only get to stretch during brief breaks before continuing their long-distance journeys. Unfortunately, these extended periods of inactivity make them prone to a variety of health issues.

    Roughly seven out of ten truckers are obese, compared to one-third of adult Americans. Additionally, they are twice as likely to have diabetes. Thus, they are at risk of developing serious health concerns, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and heart disease.

    Truck drivers are also 2.6 times more likely to smoke cigarettes. Nicotine is a known stimulant that helps prevent fatigue and maintain alertness when driving. However, smoking increases the risk of truckers developing the following diseases:

    • Cancer
    • Coronary heart disease
    • Peripheral artery disease (damage to blood vessels)
    • Asthma
    • Stroke

    Truck drivers can stay alert in other, healthier ways. They must drink a lot of water, get at least eight hours of sleep every night, and eat smaller meals during the day to prevent low blood sugar levels.

    Mental Health

    Fatigued truck driver in California

    There is no doubt that truck driving can be a stressful job. Drivers spend long hours on the road, often without breaks, requiring them to stay alert constantly. They must also deal with traffic jams, inclement weather, and dangerous roadways while attempting to deliver goods on time. Moreover, they must endure being away from their loved ones for a prolonged period of time.

    All these factors can cause mental and emotional strain, leading to the following mental health concerns:

    • Fatigue
    • Burnout
    • Sleep disorders
    • Depression
    • Socialization issues

    Truck drivers with poor mental health may have poor judgment, reduced concentration, and high levels of tension and worry. These factors can significantly increase the risk of road accidents. Sadly, this aspect is often neglected, even though mental health is just as vital as physical well-being for truckers. Through proactive methods and a focus on mental wellness, truck drivers may effectively handle the dangers on the road with increased confidence and resilience.

    What Are The Risks Of Unhealthy Truck Drivers?

    Truck drivers who neglect their health pose a great danger to motorists with whom they share the roads. Over the years, fatigued driving has become a persistent concern. Truckers who fall asleep while driving could collide with incoming traffic or external obstacles like trees and signage. Similarly, if they use drugs or drink alcohol to deal with the stress of their jobs, they could jeopardize their safety and end up in accidents.

    Medical professionals have clarified that alcohol and drugs are sedatives that worsen exhaustion and impair cognitive functions. As a result, drunk or drugged drivers often engage in reckless driving and cause collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2021, 50 large truck drivers were involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes.

    Impact Of Serious Truck Accidents

    Unlike auto accidents, collisions involving large vehicles can result in more severe non-fatal or fatal injuries, such as:

    A child was injured after a truck accident in California

    The very nature of trucks—from their size and weight to the materials they carry—is one major contributing factor to the devastating effects of truck accidents. Our truck accident lawyers believe that recognizing the skills and professionalism required for truck drivers can help all road users practice safe driving while traveling alongside them.

    How To Avoid Truck Accidents

    While semi-truck accidents concern all drivers, they can be mitigated with safe driving practices. Unlike other professions, truckers have a bigger responsibility due to the size and power of their vehicles. The key? Taking a moment to think before they act. This simple pause allows them to clear their heads and consider the potential consequences of their decisions.

    Here are some other measures to avoid truck accidents:

    Avoid Fatigued And Distracted Driving

    Fatigued driving usually leads to distracted driving. When they’re tired and lacking sufficient rest, truckers struggle to focus on the road. They might fail to notice dangerous road conditions like those on the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

    According to the FMCSA, 68 sleeping or fatigued large truck drivers caused accidents in 2020. Given these circumstances, the authorities are considering amending the hours-of-service regulations. This modification aims to provide truckers with options on how they can spend their ten hours off duty.

    While waiting for updates on this initiative, truck drivers are continuously advised to prioritize getting enough sleep. They must establish driving limits and take breaks if necessary. Sipping water also helps alleviate drowsiness. In the long run, resting will enable them to continue driving safely and reduce the risks associated with truck driving.

    Overspeeding truck in California

    Avoid Overspeeding

    Truckers often choose to drive faster to gain extra miles and meet their tight delivery deadlines. They also try to reach their destinations as early as possible to avoid traffic congestion and adverse weather conditions, like rain, that could disrupt their schedules. This mindset can make it easy for them to convince themselves that slowing down will lead them to more inconvenient situations.

    However, issues arise when truckers overspeed. They may be unable to react quickly on poor roads, which are among the dangers beyond their control. If they only drive within the set speed limit, they will have more time to respond appropriately.

    Be Careful When Driving On Unsafe Roads

    Experienced drivers should be cautious enough to remember that there are certain locations they should never go to when darkness falls. Naturally, they won’t be aware of where those spots are when they’re traveling unfamiliar roads. However, the general rule is that spending the night at the shipper or consignee areas is safer than at most truck stops.

    They need to call the lot in charge early, especially if they’re taking a new route. Receivers can advise them whether it’s safe to park and stay there for the night or if they can only use it during the day. They will still have enough time to find a secure resting location if the place is unsafe.

    Always Do A Circle Check

    Truckers should do a circle check before starting a trip to ensure their big rig is free of damage and problems. This simple procedure can save many lives.

    Many skip this 20-minute inspection to save time. However, doing this will ultimately help truck drivers avoid serious safety concerns during trips. It will help them reach their destination without encountering any unexpected maintenance issues, such as brake failure. Smart Trucking’s DOT-certified pre-trip inspection guide is a useful resource for this.

    Use The Buddy System For Repairs

    Truck drivers should bring a companion if they need to conduct repairs underneath the trailer. Those without partners, even those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), could get pinned beneath their thousand-ton rigs while fixing a mechanical issue.

    A buddy can provide assistance when they need it. They can also call for help right away in an emergency.

    There are some repairs, though, that they might feel confident doing on their own. Nonetheless, they must be wise when deciding which parts to work on. For example, it’s better to leave brake repairs to a qualified mechanic.

    Be Cautious With Trailer Decks And Loads

    At some point, truckers may need to climb up the rear of their trucks to do repairs. They may also have to go to their trailers to unload their cargo. However, they shouldn’t do this without the necessary gear or safety equipment, like a ladder. If they recklessly perform this procedure, they might slip and fall and sustain serious injuries.

    Open Your Doors One At A Time In Case Your Load Has Shifted

    Truck drivers should open the doors of their trailers one at a time to ensure cargo doesn’t spill right onto them. Although this is rare, it’s still a dangerous possibility. If the load is not secured properly, it can shift during transit. Even if they’ve double-checked it beforehand, it’s better to be cautious and assume that it could fall on them once they open those doors.

    Be Cautious With Other Drivers

    Truckers always face significant dangers on the road, with one of the most pressing threats coming from other drivers. They must constantly remember that, at times, they might share the road with reckless car drivers who can potentially cause truck accidents.

    While safe driving should be a universal practice, some motorists are often careless, which can have serious consequences. Fewer car accidents would occur if everyone were mindful of their surroundings and kept a safe distance from other vehicles to minimize risks.

    Do I Need An Injury Lawyer After A Truck Accident?

    Yes. You need to consult a truck accident lawyer promptly if you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident. You may have won similar injury claims before, but truck accidents involve a complicated process requiring experienced injury attorneys. These accidents and the serious damage they cause are not typical personal injury situations.

    First off, multiple parties can be held liable for a truck accident—from the truck drivers themselves to the companies that employ them and handle cargo loading. The legal expertise of truck accident attorneys is needed to establish liability and deal with these corporations and their insurance providers. Good truck accident lawyers don’t just seek quick settlements; they determine all liable parties and look for all potential avenues for compensation, thereby giving you the best financial recovery possible.

    As discussed, accidents involving trucks, from the relatively modest-sized dump trucks to the enormous Amazon delivery vehicles—often lead to catastrophic injuries and damages. The severity of these losses may translate to bigger truck settlements and awards. However, don’t expect the insurance companies to compensate you eagerly and fairly. You need skilled truck accident lawyers to level the power imbalance and obtain the full compensation you deserve.

    Insurance companies are inclined to be aggressive in prioritizing their profits. They don’t simply give money away. They even have experienced attorneys to handle truck accident claims and lawsuits. Having seasoned injury lawyers to represent you will make them take your case seriously. Your trusted truck accident lawyer will fight for your rights and best interests, guiding you through these complex disputes and leading you to victory.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Truck Driver?

    In the US, the national average life expectancy is 76 years. For truck drivers, it dips to a concerning 61 years. This 15-year difference highlights the health risks associated with the job.

    What Are The Dangers Of Driving Near Big Trucks?

    Danger areas near trucks

    Sharing the road with large trucks requires extra caution. Their massive size creates blind spots that are dangerous for smaller motorcycles and cars. Furthermore, since they sit higher off the ground, a sudden stop can result in your car getting wedged under the truck. Even when stopped, maintain a safe distance since a truck might roll back into your car, especially when going uphill.

    What Are The Danger Areas Around Trucks?

    Large trucks have big blind spots, particularly along the sides and directly behind the trailer. These areas are practically invisible to the truck driver, making it risky to linger beside or directly behind their vehicle.

    The swing zone, or the area alongside the front of the trailer extending diagonally towards the back,  is another dangerous area for other road users. Cutting off a truck making a turn or occupying this space can lead to a collision.

    Consult The Relentless Truck Accident Lawyers California Calls For Help

    Injured in a truck accident? You might be eligible to obtain compensation for your personal injuries. Reach out to Arash Law right away to get the guidance you need. Whether you sustained injuries while driving a truck or suffered harm as a motorist, our powerhouse truck accident lawyers in California can help you pursue legal action.

    Establishing liability for any accident, whether in the workplace or not, can be challenging. Many cases involve several parties. In semi-truck collisions, for example, truck drivers might initially be deemed accountable. However, a thorough investigation might reveal other responsible parties. Trucking companies could be considered negligent if they pressure their drivers to speed or fail to maintain the vehicles properly.

    Our California injury attorneys can handle these matters. During the truck accident claim process, we will assess your legal grounds and explore your options for compensation. We will also assist you in filing a claim. These are just a few things our truck accident lawyers can do for you. We’ll stop at nothing until you get what you’re owed.

    Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means you can benefit from our quality legal services without worrying about the upfront costs. Rest assured that you won’t pay anything unless we win your case. Contact us now at (888) 488-1391 so we can review your case for free.

    Arash Law serves various cities and locations in California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San FranciscoVisaliaStockton, Modesto, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, and Anaheim.

    You May Be Entitled to Compensation
    Arash Law Practice Area Border/Divider
    We’ll tell you if you have a case or not within five minutes, call (888) 488-1391

    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

    Check More From Our Award-Winning Law Firm
    Getting involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler can be a terrifying experience, leaving you with physical injuries and emotional trauma. But the aftermath doesn't stop there. There are numerous financial consequences to manage as well. If you are wondering...
    The lifeblood of our economy flows on eighteen wheels. Trucks undoubtedly play an important role in the supply chain, delivering goods that sustain our way of life. However, their increasing presence on our roads also raises the risk of tragic...

    Table of Contents Nobody wishes to be hit by a vehicle, let alone a massive commercial truck. If you are hit by one, you may have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, there are certain legal limitations...

    Accidents involving powered industrial trucks, commonly known as forklifts, may vary due to several factors, including the industry type, the extent of employee training and safety procedures, and the particular work environment. Forklifts are frequently used in workplace settings like...
    18-wheeler accidents will result in larger settlements than other motor vehicle accidents. It can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, many settlements amount to tens of millions of dollars, and even more in some...

    Thank You, We’ll contact you shortly.