Due to the sheer size of the United States, with its sprawling cities and the vast rural expanses between them, one of the most direct ways to transport goods across this huge country is via 18-wheeler. These behemoths are huge; they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds! Regular car accidents are bad enough, but a crash involving a semi truck can affect thousands of people. Entire highways can be shut down for hours, causing traffic to back up for miles. Other vehicles can also get caught in the crash, resulting in more injuries or fatalities. Buses are even more of an issue since the cargo they carry is much more precious. Many believe self-driving trucks and buses will solve all of our problems, and it may certainly be a step in the right direction, but the number of large truck accidents is already declining.
According to Tennessee crash statistics from 2006 – 2008, Shelby county, which encompasses the majority of the city of Memphis, experienced the highest number of medium to large truck crashes per year than any other county in the state, and it beats them by a long shot. In 2006, there 2190 crashes in Shelby county, nearly double the number of crashes in Knox county, which takes the second place slot. Thankfully, the number of large truck crashes in the Memphis area has been steadily decreasing. In 2007, there were 1876 crashes, and in 2008 there were 1584. There are many possible reasons for the decline in crashes. Recently, awareness has spread about the dangers of texting and driving, and drunk driving is punished more harshly in many areas.
Even though large truck crashes have been declining, the number of bus commercial bus crashes has remained steady during the same period. In 2006, there were 268 crashes. That number dipped to 250 in 2007, but then rose back to 266 in 2008. Why has the number of truck crashes been decreasing, but the number of bus crashes has remained steady? Many truck drivers travel with companions, so it could be that sleeping in shifts and having another driver available makes it easier to stay focused and alert. Perhaps trucking companies have actively been trying to reduce accidents, and commercial bus companies have not felt the need? With so many things that could go wrong, it is important that the transportation company in charge of these vehicles focus on consistently trying to prevent accidents.
Even then technology progresses to the point where we can have self driving trucks and buses, not all of our problems will be solved. Other people on the road can still accidents, and huge trucks can cause a lot of collateral damage. These vehicles will still need to be maintained, and companies will need to continue to make a conscious effort towards ensuring every driver’s safety.