Trucking deaths are up and experts are blaming driver training for the increase.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 840 truckers died on the roads in 2017, a 25 percent increase since 2011. The trucking industry sees an average of 26.8 deaths per 10,000 workers, compared to the average of 3.5 deaths per 10,000 workers in all other professions.
The problem is training, truckers say
Experts say the increased death rate among truckers is due to the same thing that is responsible for an increase in deaths among automobile drivers: distracted driving, speeding and lack of seat belt use. One expert said nearly 40 percent of truckers who died in 2017 accidents were not wearing seat belts.
Truckers tell a different story. They say that new technologies and a lack of training on how to use them is creating an environment of distracted driving.
Trucking companies buy trucks with technologies like lane-departure warnings, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control without putting the drivers through proper training. While the drivers try to figure out the technology, they get into accidents, the truckers say.
Accidents lead to action on road into Maryland
After many crashes due not only to a steep grade but also to distracted driving, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced in late December a 13-ton weight limit for trucks on a 3.7-mile stretch of State Road 160 in Wellerburg to the Maryland State Line. Trucks making local deliveries will be exempt, the department said.
At least 10 trucks have crashed on the steep grade down the mountain, most notably the truck that crashed into a church at the bottom of the grade in November. It was the fifth time in six years the church had been struck by a runaway truck.
Police say truckers take the road to avoid tolls and a weigh station on nearby roads.