Every day we share the road with large trucks, often referred to as big rigs, semis, tractor trailers or 18-wheelers. It is estimated that there are over two million trucks operating on highways around the country on any given day, accounting for roughly four percent of all registered vehicles in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one person is killed or injured in a truck crash every 16 minutes. The simple truth is these vehicles are big and heavy and carry lethal force into any collision.
As you might imagine, truck accidents are far more dangerous for us than they are for truckers. Weighing as much as 80,000 pounds and in some cases reaching 75 feet in length these vehicles pose a threat to motorists even under optimal circumstances. But if there is a slight mechanical flaw with the truck, or if the driver loses focus for just one second, the results can be catastrophic.
In the heat maps, you will see just how prevalent and widespread truck crashes are. Each map shows truck crash data associated with a given state. States have their own departments of transportation, zoned into various districts, and each district is charged with oversight for the roads under their jurisdiction. Within each district, you will see pins that show the location (either exact or approximate) of a truck accident. These pins are interactive, and can be clicked on to learn more about particular crashes.
Looking at all these pins on our truck crash heat maps, patterns begin to emerge. In California, for example, there is a stretch of Interstate 5 that is obviously a dangerous corridor for truck accidents (it is actually the most dangerous section of highway for truck accidents in the state). In Pennsylvania, we see that many truck accidents are clustered in and around the Philadelphia area, making it one of the more dangerous parts of the state in which to drive. But the larger story here is that the heat map shows a majority of truck crashes in Pennsylvania occur in rural areas, mirroring national statistics (nearly 70 percent of truck crashes in the nation occur in rural areas).
There are many things to be gleaned from looking at these heat maps, the largest of which is that truck accidents happen far too often and affect far too many people. Clearly, a lot of work needs to be done if we are to reduce the number of truck crashes.
The truck accident attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman are all too familiar with the devastation associated with truck accidents. Their lawyers have testified before state and federal governmental safety committees concerning trucking safety, other modes of transportation safety, and various consumer safety issues. The firm has decades of experience handling major truck accidents across the nation.
In an effort to reduce the amount of truck crashes we see every year, the firm is looking to partner with local and state transportation districts and news agencies from across the nation to help us shine a light on truck accidents. It is our hope that by building a database of detailed truck crash information, we can raise awareness and influence public policy on important decisions concerning trucking, such as keeping heavier trucks off our nation's highways, implementation of collision avoidance systems, and barring truckers from being behind the wheel for more hours per day than is safe.