It’s that time of year again. We’re rushing to and from holiday parties and the shopping mall. We’re decorating our homes. It’s dark outside, but we’re thankful for all those lights that brighten the cold nights.
With all this holiday cheer comes some well-known flaws to the season. Some of us get colds. Others of us get tired from the rushing around. All the extra travel also means an increase in road accidents, including among delivery and freight trucks.
Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, when there is more package delivery traffic than usual on our highways and byways. The Washington Post reports that FedEx delivers nearly 300 million parcels during the holidays, while USPS delivers nearly 600 million packages. FedEx estimates that the 2015 holiday season will see a 12.4% spike in their shipments.
The increase in freight traffic coincides with a hike in delivery and freight truck accidents. Statistics show that December is one of the worst months for accidents involving these types of trucks, with an increased risk of nearly 10%.
FedEx Holiday Accident in GA
Trucking accidents during the holidays are not just about statistics and abstractions. They have real-life stories behind them, and can affect anyone when least expected.
Just last year in mid-December, a FedEx delivery truck was involved in an accident in Monroe County on Georgia’s Interstate 75. When the driver lost control of the trailer, he crashed into the median barrier, sending holiday packages flying all over the highway. The driver was not hurt, although a passenger in the truck was hospitalized. Clean-up of the highway to remove it of presents and other debris was coordinated between local authorities and employees of FedEx.
Common Holiday Truck Accident Cause: Driver Fatigue
The FedEx driver in last year’s Interstate 75 accident was not able to control a detached trailer. While it is not clear what caused the trailer to become detached, driver fatigue may have contributed to the accident.
Drivers this time of year are putting in hard hours. They’ve got day-after-day of tight delivery schedules, and often drive in poor weather conditions. What’s more, some may be driving beyond legal working limits.
The maximum working hours during a seven-day period allowed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is 70. Monitoring and enforcing safe driving limits can be difficult any time of year, and particularly challenging during the holidays. To ensure the timely delivery of their packages, some employers may push drivers beyond legal working limits.
Given all of the above factors, it’s easy to see why delivery and freight truck drivers might be tired on the job during the “giving season.” Driver fatigue is a major contributor to vehicle accidents of any kind. Fatigue compromises cognitive and decision-making abilities, as well as reaction times.
How You Can Stay Safe
With some basic defensive driving techniques, you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of a dangerous delivery or freight truck accident. Some specific safety precautions to consider, especially this time of year, include:
Give the Big Guys Room – The biggest solution to avoiding an accident with a FedEx or any other type of delivery truck is to allow these vehicles plenty of navigation room. Delivery and freight trucks require a great deal of space to safely stop. A truck that has to brake suddenly – due to another driver cutting them off, debris in the road, etc. – can cause the truck to slip, tip-over, or collide with another vehicle. To avoid being involved in any of these situations, it’s a great idea to give these larger vehicles plenty of berth.
Avoid the Blind Spot – Delivery and freight trucks have larger-than-average blind spots. In fact, they are so big that they are sometimes called “No Man’s Land.” Nobody wants to be caught in “No Man’s Land.” Driving in a truck’s blind spot can put you at risk of being hit or causing an accident, so be sure to avoid this area.
Slow Down Some – Driving a little slower around larger vehicles is a good idea, especially so in inclement weather. If it’s raining, sleeting, snowing, icing, or there is any other weather condition that wouldn’t make it on a Hawaiian postcard, reduce your speed. Inclement weather is a major cause of collisions. When it’s not nice out, go with the slower flow of traffic, don’t tailgate, and take your time getting to your destination. This way you’ll make it there safely.