The Alabama logging industry not only supports the country's supply of wood, it also provides jobs to a lot of people in the area. But just because it has a lot of benefits does not mean that it is safe. If you have driven near a logging truck, then you know just how big and intimidating those vehicles are. Because of their size and weight, logging truck accidents can be severe, seriously injuring and even killing victims in smaller passenger vehicles.
You might think that as technology and vehicle safety improve, accidents involving logging trucks in Alabama will decrease. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. In fact, a recent analysis determined that the occurrence fatal log truck accidents is actually going up.
Should I be worried about logging trucks?
In Jan. 2019, researchers published an analysis of logging truck accidents in the International Journal of Forest Engineering. Using data from the FARS crash database -- the Fatality Analysis Reporting System -- those researchers found that fatal crashes involving log trucks shot up 41% from 2011 to 2015. Tractor-trailer style trucks accounted for most of the 383 crashes during that period of time.
There were also more large truck crashes in general during those five years. However, logging truck accidents increased 33%, much more than all other types of tractor trailers, which only increased 19%. The average age of logging trucks in those fatal accidents was 13 years. On average, all other large trucks that got into fatal accidents were only 7.6 years old. That difference in age could be just one reason why deadly log truck accidents grew at a faster pace.
Log truck drivers need better training
Analyzing that same data, the researchers also discovered that log trucks roll in 25% of fatal accidents. This is compared with only 12% for other tractor trailers. They also suggested that current training programs are not preparing drivers for the reality of getting behind the wheel of a large truck.
Of course, there are certain risks with working in the logging industry as there are with any job, although it might be possible that logging truck drivers are taking unnecessary risks. When looking at the forest product industry as a whole, log truck drivers are the third most likely to file a workers' compensation claim. Although some of those injuries may have taken place at a jobsite, 35% happened while behind the wheel of a truck.
People are dying
It is not single-vehicle accidents that are causing the rate of logging wrecks to go up. When researchers looked over their data again, they found that accidents involving only the log truck accounted for just 18% of total crashes. At 70%, the most common accidents took place between a logging truck and a passenger vehicle. Most of these happened on state highways.
You may feel lucky to be alive now that you know just how deadly logging truck accidents can be. Still, surviving a collision does not mean that you are not suffering. Depending on your injuries you might be out of work for a long time, so dealing with those medical bills will not be easy. If you need help getting compensation so that you can focus on your recovery, be sure to speak with an experienced attorney who will guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim in Alabama.