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The trucking industry is vital to the nation’s economy. Transporting goods and other cargo wouldn’t be as easy without truck drivers and the companies that employ them. Despite the importance of these trucks, they can be dangerous, and even deadly, on the road in some instances.

Earlier this year, a report released by the Oregon Department of Transportation showed that 2017 had the highest number of large truck crashes in 10 years. This is concerning because that truck crash rate shows a sharp rise in comparison to the previous year. Full data for 2018 and 2019 aren’t yet available. So, what might be the cause for the increase in trucking accidents? More importantly, are there any efforts underway to reduce the rates now?

More trucks may mean more crashes

A representative of Oregon Trucking Associates suggested that an increase in trucks on the road could mean a higher crash rate. OTA reports that the trucking industry is growing, and that could explain the increase in accidents. The representative further stated that more trucks may be in use now than ever.

Though ODOT agrees that the trucking industry is booming, it doesn’t share the opinion of the OTA. A representative for ODOT stated that the rate of crashes involving other types of vehicles also rose. ODOT wants to implement more safety measures to ensure that motorists of all kinds are following the law.

How much did the numbers go up?

Over the course of 10 years, from 2007 to 2017, the number of large trucks on Oregon roads went up by 1.8 percent. In 2017 alone, the crash rate for large trucks was 0.49 per million vehicle miles traveled. The representative for ODOT admits that heavy winter storms during the year may have contributed to the increase.

How to avoid trucking accidents

ODOT believes that increases in speed, distracted driving and roadway congestion may be to blame for the rise in crashes. Reps point out that people drive much faster now than before, and that the use of smartphones and other in-vehicle technology may be to blame. Distracted driving in particular has officials concerned. Crashes in the state rose by more than a third from 2006 to 2016, and experts think distracted driving may be the reason.

Officials at ODOT reached out to several different groups to prevent a further increase in the rate of large truck crashes. It advised law enforcement agencies, trucking companies and other related entities about the problem. Early reports suggest that crash rates for 2018 will go back to a more normal rate. Unfortunately, if you or a loved one are hurt in a trucking accident, an overall decrease may not mean much to you. You and your loved ones deserve to hold any responsible parties accountable for any negligence.