Truckers are already disproportionately at risk of injury while driving; Business Insider note that truckers make up 2.4% of all road fatalities in the USA. A major reason for this is the fact that everybody needs goods, and that means truck drivers can’t discriminate on road conditions.
As a result, they will face some of the most dangerous conditions across the USA – and on a regular basis. Of these roads, the I80 connecting Denver to Omaha via Nebraska features highly, and this is despite it’s innocuous appearance. While appearing run-of-the-mill and boring, the fact that 5.9% of all injuries on this strait affect truck drivers indicates the dangers on the road.
The most pressing cause for this danger is wind. While tornadoes, storms and showers may be more flashy and appear immediately dangerous, it’s unavoidable that wind can be a huge problem for unwieldy trucks. On the I80, these winds can reach incredible levels, and CNBC report that several sections of the highway were closed off as recently as November 2019 to ensure public safety. There are options out there for truck drivers and, indeed, all drivers; technology is helping to assist against the wind action. For instance, Titan Winds transportation management system have advocated for the use of careful sensors and specific weather data to provide balancing and advice to truckers out on the roads.
Inclement weather conditions
The natural flat land of Nebraska and lack of geographical formations to break airflow is why the wind becomes such a problem for drivers. New extreme weather events are adding to this and providing further factors that make the road treacherous. WOWT 6 News, a local Nebraska channel, has detailed the levels of snow and icy conditions that are making driving the I80 more like Colorado’s infamous conditions, rather than Nebraska. With the levels of extreme weather increasing year on year, this is making driving on this stretch of the highway something to be planned meticulously.
Currently, there are few great alternatives for this stretch of highway. For the average commuter, there may be better alternatives out there, particularly scenic routes that take in the vast quality of Nebraska’s prairie. For the purpose of truckers, however, there aren’t many routes that are more convenient and efficient for moving between Omaha and Denver, a crucial route for many industries. In the future, automated trucks may take this route out of the equation and allow truckers to make safer trips elsewhere in the region – in the short term, however, the onus will be on truckers to make the best use of the technology and information available to them in order to stay safe when making the trip.
Truckers face dangerous conditions given the much needed role of their job. Without the huge fleet of truckers across the USA, goods simply wouldn’t move from A to B. On the positive side, technology is doing it’s part to make some of the most dangerous routes, like the I80 Nebraska, better, and trips are much safer today than they were even ten years ago.