If I were to ask you which occupation results in the most fatal injuries, what would your answer be? Would it be police officers? Or maybe firefighters? If so, I understand why. After all, their job duties include literally having to run into the (line of) fire. However, the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers suffered more fatal work injuries than any other occupation. In fact, in 2015, there were 876% more fatal injuries to tractor-trailer drivers than police and sheriff’s patrol officers.
It is important to note that the federal government heavily regulates interstate truck driving. Some of these regulations – which will be explored and explained more in future blog posts – include requiring special licenses for drivers, requiring regular vehicle inspections, testing drivers for drug and alcohol use, and even limiting how long drivers can work without periods of rest. But even with these regulations, the fatalities continue to occur anyway.
Now, with some lawmakers promising to reduce regulations, we have already seen the scrapping of a rule requiring screening potential drivers for sleep apnea. Critics of this action believe that failing to adopt these screening requirements will result in consistently high rates of driver deaths and other injuries.
However, if driving these massive vehicles is dangerous for the driver, what does it mean for those of us driving alongside these trucks in our typical cars, trucks, or SUVs? Without any oversize or overweight permits, the legal weight limit for an eighteen-wheeler is 40 tons or 80,000 pounds. On the other hand, the average automobile on the road is around 5,000 pounds. That means that these tractor-trailers can weigh roughly 16 times more than what we are driving. This immense size differential means that these vehicles pose an even greater threat to us.
When you note that the most common cause of these fatal injuries to truck drivers is a roadway collision with another vehicle, it paints a very scary picture for your average driver. This is why it is vitally important to take steps to protect yourself and your family when you are driving on Florida’s roadways. In addition to always driving defensively, I recommend that you maximize your insurance coverage – particular your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident, or if you just wish for us to evaluate your insurance coverage to ensure you and your family are protected, please give us a call at Glassman & Zissimopulos. We work hard every day to ensure that our clients who are injured in automobile and other accidents get exactly what they deserve – a full and fair recovery for their injuries.