Each year, hundreds of truck drivers are killed in rollover accidents across the United States due to a combination of factors. The most prevalent causes are the congested roadways and exit ramps which are antiquated, inadequately lit or designated, and due to truck drivers who are too tired, distracted or overworked. The interstate highway system is in grave need of an overhaul, with crumbling roadways, designs from the 1950’s and the much more substantial burdens of the larger loads carried by a booming trucking industry.
Rollover crashes resulted in more than 50% of the fatalities of truck drivers and their passengers in 2012, despite the fact that rollovers were only 3.3% of all large truck accidents that year. 300 truck drivers or their passengers are killed and 3,000 injured each year in rollover crashes. For the 2.6 million workers in the U.S. who operate trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, rollover accidents are the number one cause of on the job deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other factors which are contributing to this substantial fatality rate among truck drivers and occupants include outdated highway engineering and ever increasing gridlock as the continuing success of the trucking industry places more burdens on the nation’s aging highways.
Atlanta, Georgia has some of the most dangerous confluence of factors resulting in deadly truck accidents in the United States. A combination of highways constructed in the 1950’s and substantial modern era traffic congestion leads to a significant number of fatal crashes which could have been prevented with some properly implemented safety measures. More than 200 trucks have rolled over in the Atlanta area since 2001, based upon a study by the American Transportation Research Institute. In those crashes, more than 200 truckers or their passengers were killed.
The 10 most common locations for rollover accidents in Atlanta all have exit ramps which require a dramatic reduction in speed and often have sightlines obscured by bridges or the curvature of the roadway. Many roads in Atlanta don’t have adequate signs and flashing lights to warn of potential rollover risk. In an example cited by The Claims Journal, in February of 2012, truck driver Walter Price was moving his 18 wheeler into the right lane on I-75 near Atlanta when, as he started to bank onto an exit ramp he had been using for ten years, a small black car cut in front of him on otherwise completely empty highway. The operator of the black car slammed on the brakes in response to the sharp curve of the exit ramp, causing Mr. Price to have to veer left and slam on his brakes to avoid a crash. But the curve was very sharp and the 36-ton truck carrying automobile parts began to roll over. Mr. Price noted: “Once you hear the freight break loose and start sliding, there’s absolutely nothing you can do…you can kiss your ass goodbye.”
Fortunately for Mr. Price, he survived the accident, but this type of crash is every trucker’s worst nightmare. The exit ramps often don’t have the banking needed for modern day trucks, as they were designed and constructed in the mid-20th century. The clear problem is that to repair and remodel these roadways and exit ramps would require billions of dollars in federal funding, which with the present day Congress’ gridlock, has no possibility of happening any time soon.
A study by the University of Michigan found that having a rollover increases a truck driver’s risk of dying in an accident by 30 times. Not wearing a seat belt exacerbates the problem, as more than a third of truck drivers who died in 2012 crashes were not wearing their seatbelts. According to the CDC, lack of seatbelt usage caused fatalities to increase between 2009 and 2012, after a 35 year low was recorded in 2008.
If you are injured in a truck accident, car crash, construction accident, or are the victim of a defective product or nursing home abuse, contact the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel to discuss your case in detail with one of our experienced, dedicated litigators. We offer a free initial consultation and can be reached toll free at 888-761-7633 or online.