A recent article in the Kansas City Star highlights a disturbing fact: that deaths from tractor-trailer accidents are on the increase in Missouri. The story states that in 2010, there were 105 tractor-trailer accident-related deaths in Missouri. But in 2011, there were 120. This increase was despite a slight decrease in the number of tractor-trailer accidents. Why the disparity?
It should come as no surprise that tractor-trailer accidents are incredibly destructive and often result in catastrophic injury, if not death. In these accidents, a tractor-trailer weighing several tons collides with a passenger vehicle that weighs a fraction of the tractor-trailer. The force that the collisions produce often render the passenger vehicle unrecognizable. Even low-speed impacts between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles impart astonishing amounts of force.
Another explanation could be the rise of mobile phone usage on the road. Texting, emailing, and Facebooking in the car is a shockingly common thing. Not only do drivers of passenger vehicles get distracted with their mobile phone, so do truck drivers. Although laws have been passed banning distracted driving, people still sadly do it. Certainly dangerous in and of itself, distracted driving can be deadly and catastrophic at the hands of tractor-trailer driver.
Tractor-trailer accidents are certainly avoidable. As a driver of a passenger vehicle, extra care must be taken in passing and driving along big-rigs. Close attention must be paid to the big-rig's blind spots and you should never draft behind one. We can all do our part in decreasing these catastrophic accidents if we are just careful.