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Experts note multiple reasons for rise in semi-truck accidents

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(HOI) -- Over just the past week, at least three semi-truck accidents occurred in central Illinois - part of what some experts say is an unusual trend in 2021.

"What we have seen is an increase in the number of accidents. And the overriding cause of that increase in accidents is speed," said Don Schaefer, executive vice president of the Mid-West Truckers Association. "People want to get out and they want to drive fast."

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows traffic fatalities are way up in Illinois, with over 100 more than this year than all of 2020.

Truck driving instructor Kenneth Baker believes driver complacency plays a big role when it comes to trucks.

"It's repetitive, repetitive, repetitive - I'm going to go to this same place every day. But then, something changes," Baker said. "You need to be proactive instead of reactive when you drive down that road."

Experts say right now, there are more trucks on the road than ever, which has led to a hiring surge to keep up with a post-pandemic demand for goods.

They say an increase in accidents could lead to a lot of problems.

"The Federal government can - and has - shut down trucking companies for bad safety records," Schaefer said. "They have revoked the licenses of truck drivers with repeated safety issues. The fact is, safety drives the industry."

Baker says he and other instructors will continue to focus their curriculum on what matters most, and he hopes that is just the start for his students.

"When they are out on the road, I try to teach them every little thing that they need to look out for … I can't teach them everything - a lot of is self-learned out there on the road - but you learn as you go," Baker said.

Harry Croton

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