Big Rig Accidents in Arizona
Millions of big rigs take to the roads in the United States. More than 3.4 million heavy-duty trucks were in service in 2015, according to the American Trucking Associations, carrying more than 70 percent of the total weight of freight transported. The trucking industry is essential to the nation’s economic livelihood. In addition to 3.5 million truck drivers, over 7 million individuals are employed in jobs somehow related to the industry, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Official Truck Crash Statistics
The Arizona Department of Transportation issues crash reports on an annual basis. For the last seven years, the statistics indicate a fairly steady rate of incidents, although there are some slight year-to-year variations – for that period, the number dropped in 2014, while there seems to be somewhat of an uptick in fatal crashes since. However, there has been a noticeable decline in big rig accidents since 2008.
|Year||No. of Accidents||Injury Crashes||Fatal Crashes|
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (managed by the National Highway Transportation System) indicated there were 20 rollover-related fatal crashes in 2015. For tractors and trailers, there were 3 fatal jackknife crash occurrences in Arizona that year. Nationally, there were 4,311 large truck/bus fatal crashes in the same period, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Why Trucks Crash
Arizona’s heavily traveled trucking routes make its roads and drivers vulnerable to accidents. An 80,000-pound semi-truck presents a major hazard to passenger vehicles and their occupants. According to the American Association of Justice, close the three times as many people die due to truck accidents than airplane, boat, and train accidents put together. Over 28,000 trucking companies in the United States continue to operate, despite having safety violations, and approximately 20 percent of drivers have said they’ve dozed off while driving at least once over the span of a month.
The reasons for so many fatal truck accidents include driver fatigue, the leading factor in these incidents. Others include:
- Mechanical failures
- Weather conditions
- Non-compliance with regulations
- Road conditions
Restricted Hours of Service
Arizona truck drivers are expected to adhere to federal regulations. These permit truckers to drive for a maximum of 11 hours straight. Drivers should have 10 consecutive hours off before taking on that shift and starting a 14-hour work day. Drivers are also limited by law to than 60 hours or less of duty within seven consecutive days, or 70 hours of duty in eight days. Either period of consecutive work days can commence only if the driver has had a full 34 hours off duty.
In Arizona, the legal limits for commercial trucks are 65 feet in length, 8 feet 6 inches wide, 14 feet (interstate) or 13 feet 6 inches (secondary roads), and a gross weight of 80,000 pounds.