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As trucking industry gets busier, roadways become more deadly

To a degree, notes a recent media expose on the nation’s commercial trucking industry, “trucking fatalities have become the awful human cost of doing business in America.”

A tragic road outcome for members of an Illinois family several years ago buttresses that view. In that fatal accident, five people died when a large commercial rig slammed into the family’s minivan from behind on Interstate 80. Five people died in that crash.

Truck accidents -- especially crashes involving semitrailers, 18-wheeler rigs and other trucks moving along state and national roads carrying business loads -- are reportedly on the uptick as an improving economy in recent years has put more behemoth-sized rigs on highways and interstates in Illinois and across the country.

How bad is the problem?

Accident-related statistics supplied by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that it is severe. That national regulatory agency states that about 4,000 people die on the country’s roadways each year in accidents involving trucks. In tandem with that statistic is this discouraging piece of news: More than 100,000 drivers and passengers are injured in truck-related crashes.

And state and national roadways seem destined to get ever-busier in the years ahead. The American Trucking Associations -- the country’s largest advocacy group for the trucking industry -- states that freight loads will progressively jump over the next decade and that about 100,000 new drivers will be needed each year over that time span.

Is there any good news on the accident front?

Maybe. New safety-enhancing technologies for trucks are currently being developed that will hopefully have a material effect on curbing truck accidents.

The bottom line is that commercial truck traffic brings both obvious benefits and increased road risks. As always, every driver needs to be duly focused and conscious of all potential road-related hazards.

Source: NBC News, “Truck accidents surge, but there’s no national outcry,” Eamon Javers and Jennifer Schlesinger, July 30, 2014

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