A majority of California truck accident fatalities were caused by drivers of passenger vehicles according to a California Highway Patrol report released this week. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the CHP is taking steps to better educate motorists about driving safely to help avoid large commercial truck accidents. According to the CHP study, out of 7,262 collisions involving big rigs in California in 2008, 56 percent were caused by drivers in passenger vehicles including cars, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. In Orange County alone that year, 17 people were killed and 616 people were injured in 452 big rig accidents. The CHP, however, did not provide information about who was at fault in the Orange County truck accidents.
CHP officers say they will conduct sweeps in Orange County to enforce traffic laws involving trucks to help reduce the number of California truck accidents related deaths. Some of the behaviors officers will be looking for include watching vehicles that follow big rigs too closely. This is an extremely dangerous way for smaller vehicles to drive. When the truck ahead makes a sudden stop, the passenger car following closely will not be able to stop increasing the potential for a fatal car rear-end accident.
To me, these numbers are not surprising at all. These statistics are in fact consistent with previous years’ trends. However, the reality is that a large number of fatal car collisions involving — big rigs — about 44 percent are still caused by big rigs. Whether these truck accidents in California are caused by big rigs or passenger vehicles, it is the occupants of the passenger vehicles who suffer the devastating consequences — catastrophic injuries and car accident fatalities. Recently, we saw another instance of how truck drivers’ negligence can cause catastrophic truck crashes when a double-decker truck lost its brakes and came barreling down the Angeles Crest Highway in La Canada Flintridge. This big rig slammed into several vehicles and went crashing into a bookstore killing two people and injuring several others.
The lesson here is whether you are driving a big rig, a passenger vehicle or a motorcycle, please be aware of your surroundings. Drive safely!