At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many experts predicted crash rates and traffic fatalities would go down along with the number of miles traveled nationwide. However, statistics have shown just the opposite. Recent data notes the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex is simultaneously experiencing a spike in fatal commercial truck accidents alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.
Less Traffic, More Fatalities
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, despite the miles traveled nationwide having dropped as a whole by 13.2% in 2020, traffic fatalities have risen by 7.2%. The twelve counties that make up the DFW Metroplex have seen this to be especially true. The metroplex experienced a total of 260 fatal commercial trucking accidents between 2019 to 2021, and there is no indication of it slowing down.
Human Behavior to Blame
Speaking with the Star-Telegram, Michael Morris notes that while there is less traffic on the roads, there have been increases in bad driving behaviors like speeding and reckless driving.
Along with an overall increase in speeding, Morris reported another example of reckless driving that has become more frequent: cars weaving around large trucks. Lance Simmons, director of engineering and safety operations for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), emphasized this idea, indicating road rage is the driving force behind reckless driving.
The Commercial Level
It is no secret that commercial companies are currently experiencing driver shortages, and this may be adding to reckless driving. Companies push their truck drivers to regularly work their maximum number of hours in a week, or 70 hours in 7 days.
Companies are also recruiting younger, less experienced drivers to operate 18-wheelers. According to 6WBRC, the federal government is exercising a test pilot program allowing 18-year-olds to drive semi-trucks across the nation. Under the test program, the American Trucking Association is allowing teenagers to drive state-to-state with an experienced driver in the passenger seat. Once they pass the probationary period, the teens can operate on their own.
The obvious flaw in it all: the average 18-year-old does not have the maturity, experience, or necessary commitment to handle the scope of this responsibility.
The cost of full-coverage auto-insurance decreases with age, as well as an individual’s capability to operate a vehicle safely. A few years may make a huge difference in rates for young drivers. This is because insurers consider younger motorists to be a higher risk based on the fact that they’re involved in more accidents and file more insurance claims.
The Texas Intrastate 70 Hour 7 Day Rule
The Texas Intrastate 70 Hour 7 Day rule applies to All Carriers operating under Title 37 of the Texas Administrative Code Chapter 4.12.
The Texas Intrastate 70 Hour 7 Day rules are:
- A driver operating within the Texas Intrastate 70 Hour 7 Day rule cannot work more than 70 hours in a 7 consecutive day period.
- A driver is required to take a 30 minute break prior to the completion of 8 continuous hours of work.
- A driver cannot work no more than 15 hours.
- A driver cannot drive more than 12 hours.
- A driver must take a mandatory 8 hours off duty before beginning a new work period.
- A driver must take a mandatory 34 hours off duty before beginning a new 7 consecutive day work period.
Your Dallas-Fort Worth Trucking Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash with a large truck or 18-wheeler to no fault of your own, you need to call Angel Reyes -Reyes Browne. There is no excuse for commercial truck companies to unethically push their drivers to operate heavy, dangerous machinery – especially when the consequences result in pain, suffering or even death to innocent people.