Big Rig Accidents in Alaska
Big rigs, or semi-trucks or tractor trailers, in the U.S., can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. These 18-wheelers have engines that alone can weigh more than a small car, making them highly viable in carrying all types of cargo and products. Around 190,000 new semi-trucks are sold each year. Like any vehicle, a big rig can be in an accident, but the damage and impact on human life is often much greater than with a car. Although anti-lock brakes have helped, rear wheels can lock up, causing the truck to jackknife and turn over on the road.
Statistical Data on Alaska Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recorded 32,166 fatal crashes involving trucks in 2015. Texas and California topped the list. The Alaska Department of Transportation hasn’t recorded nearly as many. The number has fluctuated between 1994 and 2007, the last year the department has released data for, based on numbers from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
|Year||No. of Truck Crash Fatalities||1994||5|
The number of large truck fatalities remained steady for the last three years of the study, after a peak in 2004. That year, there were 41 fatalities involving light trucks, and 28 deaths involving passenger cars, by comparison. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) reporting system noted 1 fatal large traffic accident in 2015, which involved a front-end collision. According to NHTSA crash statistics, there were 4 fatal truck accidents in the state in 2012, just 0.1 percent of the total for the entire U.S.
The State of Alaska reported three total tractor trailer accidents in 2007. No injuries were involved in that incident. There were 11 such accidents in 2006 on Alaska roads, two involving minor injuries and nine causing property damages.
Types of Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has identified three predominant events that are associated with accidents involving big trucks. They include swerving into another lane; losing control due to speed, poor road conditions, cargo shifts, or a systems failure; and rear end collisions.
Driver fatigue, physical impairment, or health emergencies are one of the reasons accidents occur, the administration has found. It also cited driver distraction or inattentiveness, poor decision making or judgment, or panic or overcompensation for an event. However, brake problems, traffic, illegal maneuvers, prescription drug use, roadway issues, and other factors were found to contribute to many accidents.
Data from Alaska does not differentiate what caused a big rig accident or indicate the exact number of crashes for most years. One or more of the main factors are often involved in a truck crash. Therefore, drivers of commercial vehicles need to be vigilant, careful, and attentive, especially when fatigue and slow reaction times threaten their safety on roads that can contain many hazards.