An increased number of tractor trailers on MS roadways may be in store

The amount of freight tonnage in the U.S. is expected to grow, which may have implications on the number of tractor trailers on the nation’s roadways.

Mississippi residents rely on tractor trailers to deliver essential goods across the state and throughout the country. Motorists traveling along state roadways have become used to sharing the road with these massive vehicles. Although driving alongside an 80,000 pound commercial truck may seem like second nature to some Mississippi motorists, people may forget that these large vehicles can present a serious danger to drivers. Commercial truck operators must be well-trained and focused while behind the wheel of a big rig. Yet, industry regulations, increasing freight amounts and a shortage of truck drivers in the country has led to an increase of distracted, drowsy, drunk and negligent truckers. This in turn has resulted in a steady rise of large truck accidents and fatalities in the United States.

Increase in freight tonnage

As the U.S. economy continues to improve, more and more tractors trailers are needed to distribute a growing amount of freight. According to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry is expected to see a 23.5 percent increase in freight tonnage by 2025. In order to keep up with demand, trucking companies must hire nearly 100,000 new truck drivers each year. The current deficit in qualified truck drivers makes it hard to keep these jobs filled, as many people don't want to be away from their families for extended periods of time. As a result, current truckers are forced to work long hours and make tight deadlines. Some truck drivers are put behind the wheel despite numerous safety warnings or with little training on how to handle and operate a tractor trailer. All of these factors can lead to a catastrophic truck accident, which may seriously injure or take the lives of innocent people.

Hours of Service regulations

In an attempt to reduce the number of large truck operators who drive for extended periods of time without stopping for rests, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised the industry's Hours of Service regulations. The FMCSA reduced the amount of time truckers could spend behind the wheel each day to 11 hours and restricted drivers to a 70-hour work week. They also mandate that truck drivers take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of each shift. All of this information should be kept in drivers logs. However, some truckers and trucking companies have been found in violation of these restrictions. In the highly publicized New Jersey truck accident case that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan, Businessweek reported that the truck driver involved in the collision had not slept for 24 hours.

What does this mean for Mississippi motorists?

Motorists in Mississippi and across the country must be cautious when driving around tractor trailers. Drivers should avoid lingering in large truck no-zones, or blind spots, and never pull out directly in front of them. When passing large trucks, motorists should do so quickly and on the left side of the truck. Most importantly, motorists should report any suspicious driving behavior to the proper authorities.

When to seek legal help

The sheer size and weight of tractor trailers alone can make them extremely dangerous to motorists. People who have been involved in a large truck accident may want to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable Mississippi attorney. You may be entitled to receive compensation to help with medical costs, lost wages, emotional trauma and property damage that occurred as a result of the accident.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury