According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, in 2008, 6.6% of all fatal commercial truck accidents in the country took place in Florida. Part of the problem, according to experts, is that Florida is a shipping area, and trucks move cargo from ports such as Miami through interstate highways to landlocked areas of the country. Also, the large size of these vehicles ensures that when Florida truck accidents do occur, they are likely to be fatal accidents.
According to experts, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Florida Highway Patrol have all taken steps to reduce the number of car accidents and truck accidents on state roads and highways. However, experts remain pessimistic about the possibility of significantly reducing the number of Florida traffic accidents involving trucks. This is because a number of truck accident risk factors are hard to address:
1) Driver fatigue. Many studies have confirmed that tired Florida drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers. When sleepy, truck drivers are simply more likely to make mistakes or to experience lapses in judgment which can lead to accidents. There are many rules in place to prevent this. Florida commercial truck drivers, for example, are required by law to take 10 hours before shifts and must drive no more than 11 hours per day. Unfortunately, most truck drivers are paid more to drive more and it is very hard to regulate rest time and break time.
2) Speed. Trucks require more time to come to a complete stop, but some drivers choose to speed in order to meet deadlines or in order to make more money. Unless radar cameras are used to monitor a roadway all the time, it can be hard to catch drivers speeding.
3) DUI. Unfortunately, Florida drunk driving accidents are still a leading cause of traffic fatalities and injuries. In 2008, 29% of all total motor vehicle fatalities in Florida were alcohol-related. Truck drivers who drink alcohol before driving run the risk of causing serious injuries and fatalities. In addition to alcohol, some drivers choose to take illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or medications to allow them to drive longer. This results not only in impaired driving but also fatigued driving as well. Like driver fatigue, DUI is difficult to regulate as it may not be obvious a driver is driving under the influence until after an accident occurs.
4) Inadequate maintenance. Some trucking companies do not maintain their fleet of trucks as carefully as they should. This can cause brake failure, steering problems, and other mechanical failures which can lead to an accident. Unfortunately, truck companies stand to save a lot of money by not doing correct maintenance on their trucks and it is hard to determine which truck companies do a poor job of this, since it is impossible to audit and check all Florida companies at all times.
5) Incorrectly loaded cargo. On a tractor-trailer, an incorrectly loaded cargo can shift, cause a rollover or even come loose and spill out onto the road. While there are strict rules in place about cargo, it is impossible for an independent body to check to make sure that each truck on Florida’s highways is correctly loaded.