Pennsylvania trucker Don Cook defies the odds. At age 79, he recently reached a major milestone in his career: Cook has driven 4 million miles without an accident.
As experienced trucking accident lawyers who have handled a multitude of cases involving trucker negligence, we know full well Cook's stellar driving record is the exception, not the rule. It's an astounding and truly rare record in the trucking industry because on average:
- Over 33% of long-haul truck drivers have experienced a serious truck crash during their careers.
- About 650 to 885 truckers and truck passengers die in U.S. traffic accidents each year.
- Tractor-trailer and heavy truck drivers have the highest number of pedestrian deaths out of any occupation with 67 such deaths recorded in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In West Virginia, large trucks are in more than 12% of all fatal crashes (8.2% in Pennsylvania).
Cook attributes his 4 million-mile clean driving record to skill and patience. He says he keeps his "wits" about him at all times. Cook also says that he has been lucky on the road. Even the most careful driver can be hit by a reckless motorist.
As he approaches 80, Cook says he has no plans to retire: His eyes and reaction time are still sharp. Cook's record is indeed a special case, as very few truck drivers have such excellent driving histories or are so dedicated to safety while on the road.
Trucker shortage opens the door for a new wave of commercial truck drivers
The trucking industry is facing a serious driver shortage that may be resolved by relaxing some standards and shifting recruiting efforts. That means drivers like Cook could become harder to find than they already are.
A recent analysis found that U.S. trucking companies were short 60,800 drivers in 2018, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
The problem isn't a lack of truckers. There are new drivers getting their commercial licenses every day. Many trucking companies, however, want to hire experienced drivers and are unwilling to take a chance on recent trucking school graduates. Also, many insurance companies won't write policies for companies that hire drivers with less than 2 years of experience.
Various ATA proposals to close the shortage gap include
- Lowering the age for a truck driver's license from 21.
- Paying higher wages.
- Making the field more attractive by providing drivers with more at-home time.
- Putting more emphasis on recruiting people coming out of the military who already have some truck driving experience.
Truck accidents in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, & Ohio
Locally, large trucks are involved in a lot of traffic accidents every year. In 2020, there were 122 large truck-related deaths in Pennsylvania. Heavy trucks like tractor-trailers and 18 wheelers were involved in 10% of all fatal crashes in the state.
In West Virginia, there were 43 fatalities involving large trucks in 2019, the most recent data available. According to crash data, fatal truck accidents in West Virginia are often caused by speeding.
Over in Ohio, there were 30 large-truck-involved fatalities in 2019, though the rate of fatal truck accidents is low in northeastern Ohio.
Recht Law fights for truck accident victims
We wish all truckers could be as safety-conscious and dedicated to reducing roadway deaths as Don Cook and his 4 million-mile clean driving record. But they aren't. Common forms of trucker negligence include speeding, distracted driving (especially texting), driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, and aggressive driving (e.g., unsafe lane changes, tailgating, etc.).
Moreover, truckers are only allowed to drive for certain periods of time and are required by federal law to take breaks. When they don't, fatigue can set in and severely impair the trucker's ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle, which increases the odds of a serious truck accident.
At Recht Law Offices, we know how to hold negligent truckers and anyone else who contributed to your crash accountable for their actions. This is important because cases involving commercial trucks are complicated, as you're often not just dealing with one insurance company. The trucker's employer, a trucking company (aka, carrier), a truck parts manufacturer, the owner of the cargo, any vendors that provide services to the trucking company, or even a separate third party might share some or all of the blame for your crash.
That's why you need to call us right away. The sooner we can get started on your case, the sooner we can start fighting for the compensation you're entitled to. To learn your legal rights and options, contact us today for a free consultation. Serving clients in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, we have offices located in Weirton and Pittsburgh.