|Fault Distribution in Fatal Crashes|
81% fault assigned to the car driver (71% plus shared 10%)
26% fault assigned to the truck driver (16% plus shared 10%)
All of this news coverage about the truck that collided with comedian Tracy Morgan's limo is really wearing on me. Mostly because so much of it contains vague, incomplete or out-and-out incorrect information.
NBC News asked the question, "Are some of America's more than 10 million commercial truckers operating their rigs when sleepy - and is that fatigue a factor injuring or killing other motorists?" I wonder if they're aware that there are only 3.5 million trucks and drivers in the United States?
This asshole decided a scary headline - A Trucking Nightmare - will strike fear in the hearts and minds of the motoring public, probably hoping they'll miss that he got his "facts" wrong. He writes that the Tracy Morgan accident happened in California, not New Jersey.
He also points out the number of fatalities in 2009 and 2012 involving over-the-road trucks but gives no indication as to whose fault those accidents were. Let me fill in that fact for you - 81% of the time it's the fault of the car driver. And it's been that way for years.
In this article, the author writes "Fatalities and injuries related to traffic accidents involving trucks have increased for three consecutive years. Approximately 3,921 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2012 and 104,000 more were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In those fatal crashes, the overwhelming majority of the fatalities occur in the cars: 98 percent of the deaths occur to car occupants, according to Advocates."
Note how they're talking about fatalities, not cause of accident that resulted in the fatality. It makes sense that if a truck and car face off, it's more likely for the car to suffer the worst damage and/or death of occupants.
This chick wrote, "Nearly four thousand people die in large truck crashes every year... the main cause of those - tired truckers." What's her source? Where's her data?
I actually emailed her to ask that question and her response was, "It was a fact from a CBS article, and since we are a CBS station we use other CBS articles as our source frequently." I guess she decided it was good reporter policy to put her name on a piece she didn't do any fact-checking for.
And all of the people talking about falling asleep, being sleepy, not having enough sleep - which EVERY news outlet, blog, and passerby has quoted, but which hasn't been proven - should take a look at this study. It's the most exhaustive one ever done, which lists the nature of driver errors in car/truck crashes. "Asleep at the wheel" is only a factor in 1% of truck drivers, and gee, get this - 9% of car drivers.
The part of the media coverage I find most offensive is the fact that every single outlet writing about the accident has reported accusations that the driver had not slept in the 24 hours before the crash.
My first question when I initially read that was, "How did they know?" Because there is NO WAY the driver himself would have told them that, even if it were true. You know who decided he had no sleep? The New Jersey police. Yet no one had any information on how they arrived at determining he was sleep-deprived. Did he yawn?
It looks like New Jersey is bent on setting this driver up to be convicted of a crime. Because in New Jersey, sleep-deprivation is seen as criminal and reckless. In 2003, they became the first state to make it a crime of vehicular homicide for causing a fatal accident while driving drowsy. The statute, known as Maggie’s Law, makes it illegal for a driver who has been awake longer than 24 hours to operate a vehicle. The only similarity between that case and this one, is that a person was driving a vehicle. Because the guy driving the car (not truck) that killed Maggie, the law's namesake, was smoking crack before he crossed over the center line and plowed into her car head on. Big difference.
This accident, because it involved a celebrity, became national news. It was all over the place. If they can prove the driver didn't get any sleep prior to the accident (good luck with that, New Jersey), they can put him away for five to 10 years. If not, then it's just a regular 'ol accident. Tragic, yes, but certainly nothing to spend more than a 24-hour news cycle on.
What I have a problem with are the drivers who complain about the Hours of Service but do nothing to express their displeasure with it. Well, other than bitching about it in comment sections of blogs and talking about it over a meal at the truck stop.
How about instead of hauling ass to get your load to its destination within the time expectation of your dispatcher or company, you take a nap when you're tired and drive when you're not? If more drivers responded in this manner, perhaps the powers that be would realize that they truly cannot mandate sleep time and drive time, and companies who hire truckers to move their freight will understand that by keeping them waiting in docks for hours on end, their product won't get to the other side in a safe and timely manner.
Just a few days before the Tracy Morgan accident, Landline, the OOIDA magazine, reported about a law firm advertisement disparaging truckers in a recent issue of Maxim, a men's magazine on sale in several truck stop chains. Truckers were so offended that they bombarded the law firm's Facebook page, in addition to voicing their disapproval to the truck stops that carried the magazine. The end result was an apology from both the law firm and Maxim magazine, and the truck stops who carried the magazine removed them from their shelves.
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it's great that drivers put their voices together to get something done. On the other hand, it was for a stupid fucking cause. Why aren't they bombarding the news outlets, journalists, and anti-trucking advocates about the utter crap we have to deal with on a regular basis??
Who cares that there's an advertisement in a magazine that offends you as a trucker? Don't buy it. And if you're so worried about the image of a trucker in the eyes of the general public, how about taking a shower once in a while? Wear a t-shirt that doesn't look as if you washed your car with it? Not leave pee bottles and trash in parking lots? Not actually pee in public parking lots? Not ride the ass of cars on the interstate? Not speed through construction zones (I'm talking to you, FedEx).
And if you're feeling so outraged over a magazine advertisement - a one page advertisement - that tarnishes the image of a group of people, you should probably be contacting Maxim about their never-ending objectification of women or their constant encouragement of excessive alcohol consumption. Those affect our society much more deeply than an advertisement that 98% of people will flip right past without even noticing. Kinda off topic, but you probably get the point.
Use the clamor of your voices to bombard people that matter - like lawmakers, corporation big whigs, managers, dispatchers, safety department heads, etc. - not Maxim magazine.
Because really, who cares if a few readers with small dicks think you're a serial killer?
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