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Truck Crashes Are Highest During Fall Harvest Season

Significant Factors in Fall Trucking Crashes
It’s unsurprising that the seasons can impact a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely—especially where large trucks are concerned. Time changes, weather patterns, and holidays can all be influential. However, these only have a small impact on why fall is the most dangerous time of year for truck drivers.

According to the most recent data from the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 1,277 fatal truck crashes during the fall season, with October accounting for about 38%. When considering what potentially influences these rates, it’s important to acknowledge that this is the harvest season. Starting in mid-September through late November, this time of year is booming for the agricultural industry, and large trucks play a major role.

How Harvest Season Can Impact Truckers
Large trucks are essential for making harvest season deliveries, transporting both equipment and product. They play such a role that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific regulations for drivers who are making deliveries for the agricultural sector this time of year.

Although making agricultural deliveries does not appear to be inherently dangerous, there may be some aspects that may make collisions more likely. Here are some of the most significant contributing factors:

Time Constraints
Since most agricultural products are perishable, they need to be delivered quickly, which often means drivers are on the road for longer hours than usual. In fact, the FMCSA has hours of service exemptions for drivers making these deliveries, and they are not required to log their hours via ELD during this period. This increase in time on the road leads to more opportunities for driver fatigue, one of the most dangerous conditions for any large truck driver.

Traveling Longer Distances
During harvest season, drivers may also be traveling longer distances than usual as they deliver products to different parts of the country. This increase in travel time can also lead to driver fatigue and makes it more likely that a driver will make a mistake.

Unsecured or Overloaded Cargo
With these time constraints, there is a great likelihood that cargo may not be properly secured or trucks may become overloaded. This puts both the driver and other motorists at risk as it increases the chance of the cargo shifting or falling off of the truck, which can cause a serious accident. Overloaded cargo may also cause the truck to not be maneuvered properly, such as making an overturn accident more likely or requiring more time to stop because of the added weight.

Rural Roads
NSC data shows that nearly 55% of trucking accidents occur on rural roads. These roads are typically not maintained or refurbished as often, tend to be narrower, and have less visibility than highways or city streets. Since routes for truck drivers making harvest season deliveries typically require navigating rural areas, these factors may increase the likelihood of a crash.

Adverse Weather Conditions
Another factor that can lead to increased trucking accidents during harvest season is the weather. This time of year often brings more severe weather conditions, such as high winds, rain, and even snow in some parts of the country. These adverse weather conditions make it more difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles and increases the chance of an accident.

Increased Traffic
Finally, the increased traffic in agriculture-heavy areas during harvest season can also lead to more accidents. With more vehicles on the road, there is a greater chance of a collision. When you factor in the other potential risks associated with harvest season trucking, it’s not surprising that this time of year sees the highest number of large truck crashes.

Kansas Truck Accident Attorneys
With agriculture being one of the most significant industries in Kansas, it’s important for all motorists to take the necessary precautions this time of year. Truckers should be mindful about how they are driving and the impact it can have on others. Vehicle drivers should also be aware of trucks on the road (particularly in rural areas) and understand that during this time they may need extra stopping distance, a wider berth for larger loads, and additional space when turning.

The team at Bretz Injury Law is prepared to help protect your future when negligent drivers cause harm. If you need legal assistance following a collision with a large truck, call for a free consultation.