Cook County leads state in truck accident fatalities

Cook County experienced far more fatalities in accidents involving large trucks than any other Illinois county.

Records from the 2013 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data show that 991 people lost their lives in automobile accidents. Of those fatalities, 142 occurred in crashes involving large trucks.

Cook County was the site of the largest number of these truck accident fatalities by a wide margin. In all, 31 deaths in truck accidents occurred in Cook County. Will and Kankakee Counties had the second and third highest number of these deaths with 12 and 6, respectively. The Cook County statistics represent a trend of increasing truck fatalities after one year of decline. Specific information includes:

  • In 2012, 27 people died in truck accidents.
  • In 2011, 13 people died in truck accidents.
  • In 2012, 12 people died in truck accidents.
  • In 2012, 24 people died in truck accidents.

The reality of how dangerous sharing the road with large trucks can be comes to life in a grave way when seeing these numbers. It is because of this danger that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking for additional ways to improve safety.

Can fatigue among truckers be reduced?

Truck driver fatigue is a known problem and contributing factor in many truck accidents. The FMCSA has been investigating new ways to combat this ongoing problem. In 2013, new rules for when drivers were required to take breaks were introduced with this goal in mind.

Despite the admittedly honorable goal, the rule change was not greeted with widespread support. Within the industry many groups strongly opposed the new guidelines. Supply Chain Digest notes that the controversy eventually reached Congress and a stay was placed on the regulations pending further investigation. According to OverdriveOnline.com, the initial timeline for the stay was to run through September of 2015 but that may be extended if more time is needed to gather data. The eventual outcome of this effort is yet unknown.

How serious is impaired driving among truckers?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious problem for anyone, including people operating large commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers. One effort by the FMCSA to crack down on this is random driver substance testing. Bulk Transporter indicates that this practice will continue due to an increasing rate of test failures.

In addition, the Commercial Carrier Journal notes that a new database designed to capture substance test and abuse information for drivers is currently in development. All driver test results or refusals to participate in tests will be reported to the system. Employers must check the database as part of the pre-hire process.

Tips for Chicago residents

While the FMCSA continues to evaluate options for safety improvement, accidents with tractor-trailers will still happen. For this reason, Chicagoans should always be ready to contact an attorney for help after these tragic crashes.