We all get a little nervous when driving near a large truck or 18-wheeler. Rather on the highway, a city street, or at an intersection, a crash with a large truck is often catastrophic – and nobody wants to be involved in one. But, where are you most at risk? Where do trucking accidents, most often happen?
While trucking accidents can occur anywhere, you may be surprised to learn that truck accidents occur most often in rural areas of our state. Why is this? Read on and find out.
Where Are Trucking Accidents Most Likely to Happen?
According to 2018 data from the National Safety Council (NSC), drivers are more likely to get into trucking accidents depending on where they are driving. In fact, the NSC determined that:
- 57.09% of fatal truck accidents occurred in rural areas
- 74.25% of fatal truck accidents occurred on non-interstate roads
These statistics may seem at odds with what you know about car accidents. After all, aren’t car accidents supposed to be more common in areas of high traffic? More cars mean more crashes, right?
Why is it then that more fatal truck accidents occur on roads where fewer cars are traveling?
Desolate Roads and Lack of Vigilance
As mentioned, rural areas and non-interstate roads in those areas have fewer people traveling on them. It seems that these emptier roads can also create a false sense of security for truck drivers.
When driving in a city, truck drivers are surrounded by smaller vehicles. Each of these vehicles could contain a reckless or negligent driver that poses a risk of collision. As such, truck drivers are at attention, looking for potential hazards.
This is why it is not uncommon for truck drivers to reduce their speed in high-traffic areas like San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston. They know the risk of crash is high and are taking steps to ensure they are protecting themselves and those around them.
Once out of that high traffic area though, truck drivers will go back to higher speed and may become more relaxed and less attentive.
While lower vigilance alone is enough to cause an increase in fatal truck accidents, relaxed truck drivers may also engage in other dangerous driving behaviors like distracted driving.
Rural Roads Are Less Familiar and Less Maintained
Another reason truck accidents may occur more often on rural, non-interstate roads is the roads are less predictable.
Interstates are well lit and organized, with visible road signs. They are easy to navigate, and long-haul truck drivers will drive the same interstates multiple times a month.
When a route takes them off the interstate, truck drivers may find themselves on unfamiliar roads. This can be a challenge even for professional drivers. These non-interstate roads or often less well lit and can lack clear signage. Truck drivers also face private roads and driveways feeding into the road they are traveling on.
Rural roads, especially non-interstate, are also more likely to be in poor condition. From potholes to damaged shoulders to faded street lines, poor road conditions can greatly increase the risk of a crash occurring.
Truck Drivers and Highway Hypnosis
The final reason truck accidents occur more often on desolate rural roads is “highway hypnosis.” Highway hypnosis is in the same category as drowsy driving and fatigued driving. It occurs when a truck driver falls into a kind of hypnotic trance.
The truck driver’s brain becomes more relaxed over time with the unchanging conditions and scenery of rural roads, and cognitive functions fall short. However, motor skills continue to work normally, so the 80,000-pound truck keeps rolling practically unattended.
About 100,000 crashes are attributed to drowsy driving and highway hypnosis each year.
What Can I Do as a Non-Trucker?
The best thing you can do is follow all traffic laws and drive defensively. Try to make yourself visible to truck drivers and avoid traveling in their blind spots.
If an accident does occur, be sure the get immediate medical attention. Even if you feel ok initially, some injuries may not be symptomatic until days, weeks, or months after your crash occurred. Also, call a San Antonio truck accident attorney to discuss your legal options. Thomas J. Henry Law is available 24/7 to help you and we offer all accident victims FREE case reviews.