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Appreciating Truckers Doesn’t Mean Letting Them Off the Hook

I know a lot of truckers. Some of my best friends are truckers or they were at some point. I think it’s a great career for a certain kind of person. It’s a meaningful and important career. We couldn’t do much as a consumerist economy without truckers moving our supplies and products around. Many major companies would fail overnight if they didn’t have such a large team of truckers around to help them provide such great service at such low prices. I say all that upfront to establish that I am not the enemy of truckers or the trucking industry. I want the industry to thrive.

I have to say, though, that I was honestly shocked when I read the recent truck accident fatality numbers published by Glover Law Firm. According to the statistics they quote from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the number of fatalities have been on the rise, 2014 excepted, since 2009. While they haven’t reached their highest number of all time (set in 2005), they’re trending that way.

And what are those numbers? In 2015, in just one year, there were 3,598 fatal truck accidents. Unfortunately, the death total is even higher than the accident total. That number is actually 4,067. More than 4,000 people died in one year from truck accidents. That’s simply unacceptable. The biggest states to suffer these deaths were the obvious ones: California, Texas, and Florida. In other words, big states with big populations have big truck accident problems.

The real story here, though, is that there are too many truck accidents, those accidents are increasing, and we aren’t doing enough (or maybe anything) to cut down on them.

What can we do? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself. Trucking is a tough business that is already heavily regulated. I know that from my friends who have been in the industry. Recent changes have made it harder for truckers and trucking companies to cheat the system and further endanger others on the road. However, even with those changes, we aren’t seeing the decrease in fatalities you’d hope to see.

So, what can we do? I honestly don’t know. We could increase regulations, which would dissuade more people from becoming truck drivers, would raise the costs of products across the country, and may also do little to actually reduce the rate any further.

On some level, perhaps there is little we can do, since we need to move products, and we need truckers to move them. Building up a better rail system is not very realistic at this point. There are large parts of the country that lack access to water routes. We need truckers trucking. Such large vehicles on the road for such long hours will inevitably lead to accidents and deaths.

I refuse to believe we just have to accept these numbers, though. So, what I’ve decided we need to do is to publicize truck accidents more, including the trucking companies that are responsible. Perhaps shaming those companies after an accident and during any lawsuits will make them regulate themselves better. I certainly hope so, because I really hope those numbers go down soon, for your sake and for mine.