You probably heard about the tragic accident on the Maine Turnpike that claimed the lives of a five-year-old boy and a 57-year-old man in November. In a recent Portland Press Herald article, it was revealed that the truck driver who caused the accident was not permitted to drive across state lines due to being an insulin-dependent diabetic. While this specific medical condition may not have been a factor in this crash, it certainly causes concern. Are the roads more dangerous than they used to be? Are commercial vehicle accidents increasing? We break it down below.

Truck Accidents Appear to Be On the Rise

According to the latest report on Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts from the Department of Transportation, 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2015, an 8% increase from 2014. From 2014 to 2015, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by five percent.

Typical Large Truck Violations

Operation Safe Driver is a program devised by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) to lower the number of crashes resulting in injury and death. Over a week in October, law enforcement officers stopped 23,871 commercial vehicle drivers nationally and gave out 4,420 warnings and 3,158 citations. Their goal is to make drivers aware of unsafe driving behaviors to do things differently in the future.

Here are the top five violations by commercial motor vehicle drivers according to the CVSA:

  • Speeding: 2,386 warnings, 1,325 citations
  • Failure to obey traffic control devices: 775 warnings, 498 citations
  • Not wearing a seat belt: 602 warnings, 791 citations
  • Using a handheld phone: 163 warnings, 246 citations
  • Improper lane change: 150 warnings, 70 citations

Any of these driving violations on their own could be risky, but when combined with distracted driving or fatigue, the result could be very dangerous. In the study, seven commercial motor vehicle drivers were cited for driving while ill or tired, and 38 were warned about the same issue.

What Can You Do to Stay Safe?

Drive carefully around large trucks and other commercial vehicles by being aware of their movement and, whenever possible, keeping a safe distance. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney and get advice about your options. And of course, do your part by practicing safe driving behavior–as always.