Recognized as a national freight industry leader, Arkansas has an extensive freight transportation system that includes highways, railways, waterways, air cargo, and pipelines.
These systems support Arkansas’ freight‐related industries across a number of different sectors, providing connectivity to the rest of the state and the country.
Arkansas’ trucking industry is the backbone of the freight transportation system; it affects the everyday lives of Arkansans, from transporting goods to creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
However, this great responsibility comes with great risk.
Freight truck accidents occur every day, injuring and killing hundreds of people annually. Arkansas is among 14 states that suffer an unusually high rate of tractor-trailer accidents: more than 14 percent of all roadway fatalities in Arkansas involved a large commercial vehicle in 2015.
Because Arkansas relies on its freight economy, it’s important to understand both the rewards and risks of our state’s trucking industry.
The Importance of the Freight Economy in Arkansas
Freight trucking affects nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and freight volumes continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Based on the US Census, between 2000 and 2015, the population of Arkansas grew from 2.67 million to 2.98 million—a 12 percent increase. This population growth was consequently matched by an increase in the demand for freight services on the Arkansas transportation network.
Over the next 25 years, the Arkansas trucking industry is expected to grow by more than 40 percent to accommodate its growing population.
How Freight Impacts Arkansas’ Other Industries
Arkansas’ trucking industry transports a variety of products including agricultural goods, coal and petroleum, lumber, building materials, and retail merchandise.
Roughly half of the economic output of freight-dependent industries is produced from the manufacturing industry; other key industries include agriculture, construction, retail trade, and wholesale trade.
Moreover, approximately one‐quarter of freight-dependent employment is in manufacturing with another one‐quarter in retail. Construction, agriculture, and transportation/warehousing also have a large proportion of employees in freight-dependent industries. Ultimately, the trucking industry employs about 600,000 people in Arkansas.
Eighty-seven percent of Arkansas’ communities depend exclusively on trucks to transport their goods. Freight-dependent industries are responsible for 56 percent of the total economic output for Arkansas and make up 38 percent of the employment in the state.
Trucking Crash Risks
Arkansas’ large commercial truck drivers experience a multitude of challenges on the road, creating several crash risks. Crashes involving large commercial vehicles are more likely to involve a fatality due to their size. According to reports, more than 14 percent of all roadway fatalities in Arkansas involved a large commercial vehicle in 2017.
Crash risks include congested traffic, driver fatigue, driving under the influence, speeding and reckless driving, and the truck’s maneuverability. Check out this page if you would like to learn more about factors that can cause trucking accidents in detail, but here are some brief examples.
Congested traffic and bottlenecks on interstates (i.e. I-40, I-49, and I-540) are a major recurring issue, particularly in central Arkansas, northwest Arkansas, and other isolated areas of the state.
Bottlenecks are consistently most severe on interstates in urbanized areas, and these congestion issues are expected to get worse over time. Congested traffic not only slows down shipments, but it also greatly impacts drivers’ safety.
Many commercial truck drivers spend entire days behind the wheel, often driving for 10 hours or more. Long-haul drivers may put in 10 hours a day for several days in a row, leading to exhaustion and fatigue.
Many times, truck drivers push through their fatigue to make their strict deadlines. Though federal regulations have been established to prevent truck drivers from driving under such conditions, driver fatigue still occurs and can cause potentially dangerous situations on the road.
Driving Under the Influence.
While driving under the influence is dangerous for all drivers, it’s especially dangerous for commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs put themselves and others at greater risk. When an injury or fatality is caused by a truck driver under the influence, the driver may be held liable for the damages caused by his/her negligence.
Speeding and Reckless Driving.
Speeding and other reckless behaviors—like cutting drivers off, weaving through traffic, making wrong-way turns—also increase when drivers are pressured to roll over an ever-increasing number of miles per day.
In fact, in 2017 speeding contributed to almost one-third of all fatal truck accidents across the United States.
Truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes as well. Large trucks require longer stopping distances: they use air brakes, unlike passenger vehicles which use hydraulic brakes.
Loaded tractor-trailers take 20 to 40 percent farther than cars to stop, and it’s even greater on wet or slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes. Large trucks that carry heavy cargo also may affect the maneuverability of the truck, especially in severe weather conditions.
The Minton Law Firm Can Help
Recovering compensation for injuries suffered in a crash with a semi, log truck or other large commercial truck can be difficult because multiple parties—including the truck driver and trucking company—may be liable.
If you have been involved in an accident with a big rig, contact our experienced truck accident attorneys at (501) 794-0001 for a free consultation. Our phone lines are open 24/7 to ensure that you get help when you need it.
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