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NPR Highlights Increasing Dangers on Southern California Highways and Rural Roads

California, and specifically southern California, is world famous for its interstates and highways. After all, there are few other places in the world where the prospect of driving on certain roads or highways is a tourist draw. Year after year, tourists flock to experience the California coast from the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or local attractions via the I-5, I-10, 101 or other freeways. All the while, commuters, and locals to southern California go about their daily routine.

However, there is another aspect to the road and highway traffic that introduces serious dangers for all motorists. That is, the area’s ports and access to overseas markets also mean that it is a commercial freight and shipping hub. As such, a massive number of heavy trucks travel from ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses in the Inland Empire and to destinations throughout the nation. While goods-carrying trucks are vital to the national economy, they present a significant highway safety risk and the potential for life-altering accidents.

Trucking Accidents Have Spiked in Southern California Since 2009

Back in 2009, when trucking accidents and incidents hit their all-time low for California, it appeared that the state was on the right track to reduce and eliminate dangerous on the highway. In hindsight, a good deal of the drop in the state’s share of trucking accidents and deaths could probably be attributed to a decrease in shipping traffic brought on by the Great Recession. However, at the time, the state’s historical low of making up just 4.8 of all trucking accidents seemed to indicate that the state was taking the right approach in regard to roadway and highway safety.

Today, the most recently available truck accident statistics available are from 2014. These stats show that, by 2014, truck crashes in the state had already shot up to 5.6 percent of all crashes in the nation. This is a significant increase and one that motorists throughout the state have noticed. In fact, a recent news story on a local NPR affiliate seemed to indicate that this is a major problem for the area that is only getting worse.

Where Do the Most Southern California Truck Crashes Occur?

There are two places where truck accidents are generally most likely to occur. The first is on highways in densely populated urban areas where the volume of vehicles can make safe travel more difficult for large trucks. The second place where truck accidents are far more likely than average to occur is on rural roads where trucks may travel at high speeds despite curves, hazards, potentially poor lighting and other hazards more common on local roads. Of the two types of roadways where large truck accidents are more likely, many people are surprised to learn that accidents on rural roads are actually more common.

Highways and rural route with a significant number of truck crashes include:

  • I-5 where an average of 1102 truck crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • I-10 where an average of 1013 big rig crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • I-60 where an average of 704.6 tractor-trailer crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • I-15 where an average of 578.6 freight crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • I-91 where an average of 481.4 commercial truck crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • 405 where an average of 450.4 crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • 210 where an average of 1102 crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • 710 where an average of 366.2 crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • 101 where an average of 343.2 crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.
  • 605 where an average of 323 crashes occurred annually between 2010 and 2014.

Will the Problem Presented by Large Trucks Sharing the Roads get Better?

In terms of sheer volume of vehicles, it does not appear that Southern Californians are drivers through the nation should expect a significant or appreciable drop in truck traffic. Rather, observers project that freight truck traffic should continue to grow in volume for at least the next 20 years. This continued growth would come on the heels of sustained truck traffic growth as the increase in heavy traffic has outstripped the increase in passenger traffic since 1990.

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However, there are other factors that may intervene. While trucking traffic is slated to increase, the type of trucking traffic may be very different even five years into the future. A number of companies in the transportation, technology, and auto manufacturing industries are currently testing automated trucks that can operate without a human driver. Since the vast majority of crashes are attributable to human error, this would remove the human factor from at least half of the equation. However, human drivers in passenger cars are expected to be on the roads for many more years. These drivers can still make errors that cause an accident. Furthermore, errors in the loading or unloading of the truck or the failure to perform maintenance can lead to incidents where a crash is made inevitable.

Hurt in a Trucking Crash in Southern California?

IF you have suffered a serious trucking accident in Los Angeles, Long Beach, or throughout Southern California, the lawyers of Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team may be able to fight for you. Our Truck Accident Team is made-up of local counsel living and working in your area. This means that they will be attuned to the concerns and needs of people like you. To schedule a free and confidential trucking accident consultation, please call (215) 246-9000 or contact us online.

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