As the American industry thrives, the need for commercial vehicles is greater than ever. After all, they play a key role in transporting raw materials and finished goods across the length and breadth of the country. Thousands of trucks traverse the American roads daily, with nearly 3.5 million truck drivers being a part of the workforce.
While the numbers represent the strength of the country’s supply chain, they also spell a massive risk of road crashes. According to statistics, 5,700 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2021, an 18% increase from the previous year and a 49% increase in the last decade. Missouri is among the high-risk states, witnessing thousands of trucking mishaps every year, with many of them being fatal.
Here are a few reasons contributing to the risks of such crashes in Missouri.
Highway Infrastructure Challenges
Missouri has an expansive and heavily traversed highway system, serving as a crossroads for several major interstates, such as I-70, I-44, and I-55. These highways facilitate transportation and commerce in the country. The state also has hundreds of trucking companies running commercial vehicles for local and cross-country businesses.
Despite being a hub for the American supply chain, Missouri faces many highway infrastructure challenges. Several rural roads fall short of maintenance, contributing to the risk of collisions and single-vehicle accidents. The sheer volume of trucks on the state’s highways makes them inadequate in the infrastructural context.
Geography and Climate
Besides the number of trucks on the Missouri highways, the state’s diverse geography and climate create unique challenges for drivers. Truckers experience bigger ones while handling heavy vehicles on icy roads and amid low visibility during the winter season. Moreover, heavy rainfall during spring and summer causes slipperiness and elevates the accident risks.
The winter of 2022 was harsh in the St. Louis area, with reduced visibility due to the snow blowing around in the area. The area witnessed several accidents when the snowy season hit in 2022. Trucking mishaps are the worst because they cause greater damage and more severe injuries. While a victim can collaborate with a St. Louis truck accident lawyer, prevention is always a better approach.
According to TorHoerman Law, St Louis has many commercial logistics and freight companies, leading to higher numbers of trucking mishaps in the area. Drivers should be aware of the risks and adopt a defensive approach when driving on highways on wet or snowy days. A truck losing control can land you in big trouble.
Population Density and Urban Congestion
Missouri has several densely populated urban areas like Kansas City and St. Louis. High population density is the reason for increased traffic congestion in these cities. Even highways connecting them to other cities and states are crowded. Road trippers visit these cities from around the country, adding to the congestion.
Traffic volumes create a challenging environment even for the best truck drivers. Navigating the busy city streets and highways requires exceptional patience and skills. Moreover, a small mistake can cause fatal crashes, taking a toll on the lives of truckers, car drivers, and pedestrians. Broader roads and vigilant driving are the only practical solutions to address these risks.
Inadequate Training and Licensing
Inadequate training and complex licensing processes are the challenges for the American trucking industry as a whole. According to the National Trucking Association based in Missouri, truck driver retention is part of the supply chain problem. It leads to inexperienced truck drivers getting behind the wheel and operating heavy vehicles.
Without proper skills and training, these drivers can make mistakes in challenging conditions. Trucking companies should enforce stricter regulations and better hiring processes to bring only qualified drivers on board. Additionally, comprehensive training programs ensure that drivers are ready to face the demands of the job and drive safely at all times.
State-specific differences in regulations may also affect the behavior and practices of truck drivers. Since Missouri gets commercial vehicles from across the country, this problem persists in the state. Harmonizing regulations is a step the government should take to mitigate these challenges. With consistent enforcement across state lines, truckers are in a better place to follow rules.
The Bottom Line
Missouri is a business and transport hub, with thousands of commercial vehicles navigating its roads every year. While the volume of truck traffic in the state elevates the risk of mishaps, there are ways to address it.
The state government can do its bit by providing better infrastructure and enforcing stringent traffic rules. At the same time, drivers should play their part by practicing caution and following the unspoken rules of defensive driving.