Are Aggressive Driving Truck Accidents Increasing?July 19, 2021
A combination of anecdotal evidence and traffic studies affirm aggressive driving is causing more truck accidents to occur in Maryland and across the United States. Commercial trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds with their loads on board operate on public roads in Maryland. The potential for costly personal injury or death from accidents caused by aggressive drivers could trigger a need for truck accident lawyers to hold aggressive drivers accountable and ensure fair insurance settlements.
Aggressive driving is what most people think of a road rage and is highly pervasive among most drivers. Road rage generally describes fast and aggressive driving, including tailgating, speeding, and cutting off other motorists. Incidents are on the rise, including among commercial truck drivers. CNN reports a 500 percent rise in road rage incidents from about 2010 through 2019, and that includes aggressive driving by truck drivers.
Pervasive Nature of Road Rage
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 82 percent of drivers surveyed said they committed at least one act of road rage during the past year. NHTSA also says aggressive driving causes two-thirds of traffic fatalities, including more than 300 deaths since 2013.
NHTSA says aggressive driving occurs whenever the offending driver commits a combination of moving violations with the intent to endanger another person or property. Aggressive driving was a factor in 56 percent of fatal accidents studied from 2003 through 2007, and NHTSA says excessive speed is the top factor.
Other common ways in which NHTSA says truck drivers and other motorists drive aggressively include the following behaviors:
- Following too closely
- Ignoring displayed vehicle warning signs
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Erratic or improper lane changes
- Turning improperly
- Driving on the shoulder, sidewalk, median, or ditch
- Passing in no-passing zones
- Ignoring traffic controls, traffic officers, or safety zone laws
AAA says more than 12,000 injuries are attributed to road rage during a seven-year period. Road rage also accounted for more than 200 murders during the seven-year period studied by AAA, and the American Psychological Association says the United States averages 30 murders per year because of road rage.
Why Aggressive Truck Driving is Rising
A variety of factors are contributing to a rise in aggressive driving among truck drivers in particular. The United States currently has a shortage of licensed commercial truck drivers. Despite laws limiting how many hours per day a commercial truck driver can operate a vehicle on federal highways, many truckers exceed those limits. Tired drivers who are in a hurry to complete their runs tend to be more aggressive while paying less attention when behind the wheel.
Many trucking companies also are short on licensed truckers and are hiring drivers with less experience to fill gaps. In some instances, the drivers might not be licensed to operate a big rig at all. When an inexperienced or unqualified driver is behind the wheel, safety often gets ignored along with traffic laws.
The strain of potentially long hours on the road combined with a rising number of inexperienced truck drivers is leading to a natural rise in aggressive driving among truckers. In Maryland as well as nationally, many of those aggressive truck drivers and other road raging motorists are male. But a significant number of female drivers also are breaking laws while driving aggressively.
Maryland Aggressive-Driver Profile
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) provides a general profile of aggressive drivers. Data from 2015 through 2019 show a total of 4,341 instances of aggressive driving within the state. Among identified aggressive drivers, 57.4 percent were male and accounted for 2,494 instances of aggressive driving in Maryland.
Another 31.7 percent were female and totaled 1,375 cases. An additional 10.9 percent of aggressive driving cases had an unknown driver and totaled 472 cases from 2015 through 2019.
With more male drivers identified as aggressive drivers, so are more accident victims arising from aggressive driving, including fatalities.
Male drivers accounted for 56 percent of injuries and 80 percent of deaths arising from aggressive driving from 2015 through 2019. That is 389 injuries and 19 deaths. Female drivers accounted for 42.2 percent of injuries and 20 percent of deaths with 293 and five reported, respectively. A dozen injured drivers did not have their respective genders recorded.
Passengers also suffered injuries and deaths because of aggressive driving. MDOT reports 712 passenger injuries arising from aggressive driving on Maryland roads. Approximately 58.5 percent of those, 416, were female passengers, whereas 40.4 percent, 287, were male. Another 1.1 percent, eight, were of unknown gender.
Passenger deaths caused by aggressive driving totaled seven over the five-year spread with three being male victims, three female victims, and one with an unreported gender, MDOT says. Although those numbers include private vehicles, they affirm the prevalence of aggressive driving and the potential for truck accidents in Maryland.
High Cost of Heavy Truck Accidents
Because they are tall, large, and very heavy, commercial trucks typically cause a lot of damage and potentially deadly injuries when involved in accidents with other vehicles. Passenger cars in particular could suffer a great deal of damage, owing to the much smaller size and lower profile than a commercial truck. A commercial truck driver usually is positioned much higher and is less likely to endure damage or injuries than someone in a passenger vehicle that weighs a fraction of what the commercial truck does.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says the average cost of an accident with a commercial truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds cost $91,112 per accident victim in 2007. Those costs include the price of the following:
- Medical treatment
- Emergency services
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Lost productivity
- Reduction in quality of life
Those prices are more than a decade old and do not include the current rate of inflation or its effect after two major national economic downturns. It is safe to say the more than $91,000 average lifetime cost for injuries suffered because of an aggressively driving trucker is much higher in 2021 dollars.
A motorist or vehicle passenger who is injured by a large truck often needs emergency medical treatment and sometimes hospitalization. One or more surgeries might be required to mend injuries, which could greatly increase costs to well beyond $91,000.
Lost employment, the effects of pain and suffering, and reduced productivity all have real effects on accident victim’s lives and incomes. The effects could be bad enough to trigger a significant reduction in quality of life and standard of living among accident victims and their immediate families.
Medical Costs Could Exceed Auto Insurance Limits
Although an aggressive trucker might cause an accident, there is no guarantee commercial truck insurance will cover the costs. Catastrophic injuries that require multiple surgeries, long stays in the hospital, and a good deal of physical therapy that still might not result in full healing can be especially costly.
Although commercial vehicles generally carry commercial insurance with higher liability limits, the cost of injuries easily could exceed policy limits. Many commercial operations also carry umbrella coverage that kicks in if the commercial truck insurance policy limits are too low to cover costs. However, that is not a guarantee, and insurers typically initially offer accident victims ridiculously low settlement offers.
If the offending vehicle is not identified and the driver does not stop to render assistance, uninsured motorist coverage is the only way to cover costs of related injuries or property damage. Many motorists decline the potentially helpful uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which could be a big problem following truck accidents in Maryland.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Victims of Truck Accidents Recover
If you are injured by an aggressive truck driver in Maryland, the experienced Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help you to build the best possible case. Our experienced legal team will review your case and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until we have your complete satisfaction. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.