Illinois motorists cannot drive along state highways without sharing the road with multiple tractor trailers. These massive vehicles are a fundamental part of the U.S. economy, and people depend on them to deliver essential goods across the country. As the American economy continues to grow, however, Illinois motorists may start seeing more commercial trucks on the road.
The American Trucking Association expects the total amount of freight tonnage to grow by 23.5 percent by 2025. This will require a significant increase in the number of large trucks and commercial truck operators needed to distribute this influx in freight. An Illinois truck accident lawyer knows that with more big rigs on the road, there is an increased likelihood of large truck accidents, injuries and deaths.
The need for more truck drivers
The ATA reported a major shortage in commercial truck drivers in 2013. At that time, there were 35,000 open truck driving positions, and that number has undoubtedly grown since then. In order to keep up with the increase in freight demand, trucking companies will need to hire at least 100,000 new truck drivers each year.
The fact that more people aren’t applying for the open truck driver positions may lead to several problems. People that are hired may be rushed through the training process. Some trucking companies may be forced to hire people who do not meet all of the qualifications needed to safely operate a commercial truck. This lack of trucker training and experience may directly result in a devastating truck accident, a fact known by an Illinois truck accident lawyer.
Truck drivers may be encouraged to work long hours in violation of federal Hours of Service regulations in order to meet tight deadlines and deliver more freight. In some cases, trucking companies may be held liable for the negligent actions of truck drivers, and for overscheduling truckers as well.
Dangers of negligent truck drivers
Drowsy, distracted and drunk truck drivers can cause serious damage. In 2012, large truck accidents took the lives of 3,802 people nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This fatality rate was a dramatic increase from the 3,211 deaths recorded in 2009. Illinois alone lost 115 lives in truck accidents in 2012. The sheer size and weight of tractor trailers can cause catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, loss of limbs and even paralysis. The risk is even greater when these large trucks are operated by negligent truck drivers.
Commercial truck accidents can forever change the lives of the people who are involved in them. As more large trucks fill the state’s roadways, motorists should take caution when navigating around big rigs. People who suffer from injuries due to a distracted, drowsy, drunk or otherwise reckless trucker may be able to seek compensation for the damage. An Illinois truck accident lawyer may be familiar with these types of incidents.