Safer Roads, Safer Travel


Recently, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System published statistics that reveal the levels of danger for truck drivers on the roads of the USA. Wyoming, with 8.9 truck crash deaths for every 100,000 people, was the most dangerous state. The second most dangerous was Arkansas, the third one was Alabama, and the fourth state was West Virginia.


Is there a particular reason that makes these roads so risky?  The safety on the truck business is a complex issue since it involves so many actors and factors.


 First of all, these statistics establish the fact that truck driver job is a dangerous career. According to the Truck Safety Page, around 600 drivers die per year in accidents. Crashes and rollovers are some of the most common causes.


Inside a truck, the driver may imagine that s/he has all the visibility and that s/he is able to do all kinds of risky maneuvers.  However, this is far from the truth. Because of the size of the tractor and the trailer, the truck driver does not have too many options. There are more blind points in his or her visibility: in front, the blind zone could be of 20 feet, on both sides of the truck cab are blind points, the right side being the most dangerous, and the back of the truck also has a blind point.


Another intrinsic cause of danger is the conditions of the driver. Organizations like the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents against Tired Truckers (PATT) are fighting for reduce the hours of continuous driving. That is because a tired or sleepy truck driver is a very dangerous factor.


Normally, an Over the Road truck driver must drive an average of 10 hours per day and most of the time, they have to drive continuously. Therefore, the companies or the money circumstances obligate the driver to run more hours. This makes tiredness a common incidence among drivers.


According to a report made by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety organization, the states with the least laws against the impaired driving (including the drunk and tired drivers) are Wyoming, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon and Arkansas. Among these states we find the two with the highest rates of deadly truck accidents.


The second internal factor is the truck. Alabama, the third dangerous state, has about 10 truck crashes per day according to the information of Birmingham News. This high rate may be caused by the lack of truck inspection by the authorities. In 2000, says the Birmingham News, more than 31,000 trucks were inspected and the officers took 20% of them away because of the bad conditions of these trucks. 


Finally, an external factor is the danger of the roads caused by the territory and its characteristics. Examples of this are the weather, the irregularity of the road (slopes, rifts and curves), the condition of the road, or the traffic. Most of the truck drivers do not like to drive in congested areas like New York City, and even some companies pay extra for drive there.


Christopher Elliot, a traveler and travel guide writer ranks some of the most complicated roads of the country. Among those, there is the traffic crowded Interstate 5, the New Jersey Turnpike, especially between Delaware Memorial Bridge and New York, and the stretch I -45 Dallas and Houston.