Out of the 14.2 million registered vehicles on California roads, 3% or 426,000 are big rigs, otherwise known as semis or 18-wheelers. While they make up a minority of the vehicles in the state, they are often involved in much more severe accidents because of their weight and inability to stop on a dime. If you’re a driver in California, you want to have your eye on the most recent truck accident statistics to learn if truck accidents are increasing in the Golden State.
Truck Accidents in Ventura County
A sample of large truck data taken from Ventura County shows that truck accidents are indeed increasing in the state. While this is not representative of all counties in California, it does show that between 2020 and 2021, the number of truck accidents significantly increased. In 2020, there were 115 truck crashes in Ventura County, just two more than in 2019. But in 2021, there were 136 truck accidents in the same county, an increase of 21 accidents.
Given that 2020 was the year of the pandemic, when many people were not driving on the streets, it is likely that 2020’s numbers are low, so while the increase of 21 accidents is significant, it’s not as steep as it seems at first glance. That being said, the pandemic may have actually led to more accidents because truck drivers got used to driving on near-empty roads and began taking chances they wouldn’t have otherwise taken.
For example, it was really easy to speed on some highways during the pandemic, highways that would have been jam-packed any other year. Truckers would have enjoyed this relative freedom and may not be ready to return to old habits until they realize just how dangerous their new ones are.
Possible Reasons for the Increase in Truck Accidents
In addition to the effect the pandemic had on the number of truck accidents, there are also other reasons behind the increase. Most big trucks don’t have the safety technology that has recently become standard in passenger vehicles. Semis are expensive to replace, so operators typically drive them for much longer than people do smaller cars. As a result, there are many rigs on the roads that have outdated technology and none of the new crash avoidance systems.
Another reason for the rise in truck accidents that is currently being addressed by regulators is that drivers today are more sleep deprived than ever. Pressures to get their loads to their destinations quickly mean drivers often feel like they have to keep driving even if they can barely keep their eyes open. The more recent supply chain issues related to the pandemic have exacerbated this problem, pressuring drivers to push their bodies to the limits.
Distracted driving on the behalf of both truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers is increasing as well. When people don’t pay attention to the road, there are bound to be more crashes. And these crashes become even more severe when a semi truck is involved.
The unfortunately answer is yes, truck accidents are increasing in California, but that doesn’t mean those numbers can’t change. By paying more attention to their surroundings, drivers of all vehicles can help avoid crashes, injuries, and fatalities.