Accidents Involving the Transportation of Livestock

Animals are being transported on our highways daily and accidents are certain to happen.  Livestock transportation accidents are particularly chaotic; there can be loose, injured or dead livestock on a road or highway, in addition to human injury or death involving multiple vehicles.  Not only is there chaos, but distressed and injured animals can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Though most people expect bad weather to be the main cause, studies have found that driver fatigue is the leading source of livestock trucks in rollover accidents.  There are a few factors that prove why fatigue is a major factor of all livestock truck accidents.  First, the majority of the accidents transpired between midnight and 9:00am.  Second, driver error was the most common cause of accidents because trucks would roll to the right-hand side where single vehicles were involved.

Jennifer Woods is a livestock handling specialist and gathered data showing the following results:

–        Driver error was blamed for 85% of the accidents;

–        59% of the accidents occurred between midnight and 9:00am;

–        80% involved a single vehicle;

–        In 83% of the accidents, the vehicle rolled over;

–        84% of the trucks rolled to the right;

–        Only 1% of the reports identified weather conditions as the cause of the accident and the winter months did not record the  highest number of accidents;

–        More accidents happened in October, followed by November, August, April and May;

–        56% of all accidents involved cattle trucks; 27% involved pigs and 11% poultry;

–        Of the 169 documented cattle accidents, 23% involved trucks hauling fed beef while 70% involved feeders and calves;

–        Of the 103 documented swine accidents, 80% involved trucks hauling market hogs, 16% involved feeded or weaner pigs and 3% involved sows.

There are some factors as to why fatigue is the leading cause of livestock hauling accidents.  Drivers that transport livestock have a lot of pressure – they are the only ones that have to sort, load and unload their own freight.  These drivers work long, hard and irregular hours away from their families on the road.  There is also a driver shortage and retention is always an issue.  There is also a substantial cost combined with these accidents, including the cost to rescue and recapture the animals, damage and replacement of equipment, rise in insurance costs, and the loss of the value of the animals.