When the COVID-19 pandemic hit home in the first quarter of 2020, it wasn’t long until state governments started issuing stay-at-home advisories to help stop its spread.
With fewer cars on the road, you would expect road fatalities to go down. However, the data from 2020 showed a different picture; it was the year with the highest number of road accident fatalities that America has seen since 2007.
It Is An Ongoing Problem
Fast forward to 2022, with more people slowly getting back to everyday life, there seems to be no end to the road carnage crisis. The increase in fatal crashes involving truckers has become an especially big concern in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis counties.
In 2019 when the roads were at maximum capacity, these counties reported 78 truck-related fatalities. In 2020 the year with the least number of vehicles on American roads, the number of truck-related fatal crashes rose to 90 fatalities. Even a return to pre-pandemic traffic activity doesn’t seem to make any difference either, as evidenced in 2021 NHTSA preliminary data that pointed to a total of 92 fatalities.
Unsafe Driving Behavior And Trucker Shortages To Blame
According to road safety experts, human behavior is mostly to blame for the spike in truck accident fatalities. Empty roads and reduced traffic rules enforcement in 2020 prompted the few drivers on the road to engage in unsafe driving behavior such as speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The pandemic’s frustrations and uncertainties also put many drivers on edge, resulting in aggressive driving at the slightest provocation. Unfortunately, these driving habits developed during the pandemic are staying even as the economy returns to normal.
But COVID-19 doesn’t carry all the blame. There is also the nationwide shortage of truckers, with its effects being a supply chain crisis that is gripping the whole country. This shortage of labor in the trucking sector means that available truckers are working maximum hours. Some businesses also cut corners to meet demand, increasing the likelihood of the driver causing a truck accident.
Currently, the American trucking industry is about 80,000 truckers short of the demands. As a result, many companies are recruiting younger drivers. While hiring younger drivers may help solve the truck driver shortage problem, they are at higher risk of causing truck accidents due to inexperience and dangerous driving habits. “CDC data shows teen drivers are up to three times more likely to cause a crash while driving a car; getting them to drive fully loaded trucks could put other drivers on the road at risk of injury, ” says injury attorney Matthew Aulsbrook of the Aulsbrook Car and Truck Wreck Lawyers
There is no particular answer to the problem of run-away truck-related accidents. But a multifaceted approach can help, including improving truck driver rest spots, comprehensive safety training for younger drivers, and ensuring strict enforcement of trucking laws.
The federal government is on track to allowing teen truckers to drive beyond state lines through comprehensive training and monitoring to ease the pressure on existing truckers and solve the supply chain crisis. Until these solutions are made possible, there is no end in sight to the truck carnage on the Dallas Fort Worth area roads.