Fatal Truck Accidents on the Rise in Dallas-Fort Worth

Fatal Truck Accidents on the Rise in Dallas-Fort Worth

A cluster of booming big cities, access to the coast, and stretches of long open roads make Texas a transportation mecca. But being a shipping metropolis comes with its challenges—and hazards. Texas has long been dubbed as one of the deadliest states to drive in, and the Dallas-Forth Worth area is no exception. In recent months, transit experts say that there has been a surge in fatal truck accidents in Dallas-Forth Worth area since the start of the pandemic.

A Look at the Numbers

With the plunge in traffic caused by the masses moving to a work-from-home environment, local safety advocates expected a resulting drop in serious and fatal accidents. However, after the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, the numbers “turned around,” according to Michael Morris, the director of transportation at the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The National Highway Safety Administration reported that despite a 13.2% drop in miles traveled nationwide in 2020 compared to the year before, there was a 7.2% increase in road fatalities in 2020 compared to 2019.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area specifically, there was a spike in fatal truck accidents in 2020, and the number of fatal truck accidents has continued to increase in 2021. Within the twelve counties that make up Dallas-Fort Worth, there were 78 fatal truck accidents in 2019. In 2020, there were 90 truck accidents that resulted in at least one death, and preliminary data for 2021 showed 92 fatal truck accidents, not including December’s data.

Contributing Factors

Many safety experts cite the pandemic as part of the problem. With open roads, drivers were free to speed a lot more than usual. But though traffic has since returned to pre-pandemic levels, those bad driving habits did not go away.

In addition, the growth of Texas’ population –especially in major cities—has only worsened the issue. The pandemic cultivated a lot of cross-country moves, with many people making their way to Texas. But with more people comes more congested roadways, as well as increased construction, which only worsens the problem. Increased traffic also makes it more difficult for police officers to monitor drivers and enforce the law, especially on the highway, where there is often no safe place to pull over and conduct a traffic stop.

The trucking industry has been suffering from a major truck driver shortage, with an estimated 80,000 vacancies, due to an aging workforce, pandemic-losses, increased online shopping, and a variety of other factors. As a result, the drivers who are employed are working longer hours and driving much more frequently. Though federal law limits drivers to 60 hours within a 7-day period and forbids truckers from exceeding 11 hours of driving per shift, many drivers are being pushed to their limits to make up for shortages. Ultimately, the exodus of experienced drivers retiring combined with long hours means there are many inexperienced, fatigued truck drivers are on the roads.

Steps Towards Change

The state of Texas has not seen a deathless day on its roads in over twenty years, and truck accidents are largely contributing to that figure. To combat these alarming statistics, state and federal leaders are working to implement some new initiatives. The Texas Department of Transportation Metropolitan Planning Organizations Safety Task Force is working with local advocates and engineers to determine accident hot spots and address hazards within state infrastructure. In addition, they are leading an educational campaign for the public to educate drivers on how to safely share the road with 18-wheelers and the hazards of risky driving.

As for federal efforts, the Biden-Harris administration recently unveiled a new “Trucking Action Plan” to address the truck driver shortage and major supply chain issues the country has been facing. The document includes plans to remove obstacles for drivers to obtain commercial driver’s licenses and cultivate new driving apprenticeships for those who want to get on the road. With these initiatives, state and federal leaders hope to work towards making Texas roads a safer place for both truckers and civilians alike.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to ensure you have an experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in your corner. The Callahan Law Firm has been successfully representing injured people and their families for over 25 years, and we can help you too. Give us a call at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here to see how we may be able to help.