What is the Number One Cause of Truck Accidents?
A fully loaded semi or tractor-trailer can weigh up to 30 times more than a standard-size vehicle, so accidents involving them are usually catastrophic. When a car and a large truck collide, it is usually those in the standard-size vehicle that suffer the most.
Truck accident victims may sustain severe injuries that take months to heal from or that alter their lives forever. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, you have the right to pursue compensation from the truck driver, trucking company, or anyone else who caused your injuries. A personal injury lawyer can help you file a claim and negotiate a fair settlement.
At Phillips Law Group, we have years of experience in helping truck accident victims recover compensation for their injuries. To find out how we can assist you, schedule a free, no-obligation case review with a member of our legal team today.
The Number One Cause of Truck Accidents
Truckers, like all drivers, have a responsibility to look out for the safety of those they share the road with. Drivers of semis, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers have an even greater duty to operate their vehicles in a safe manner because of their potential to cause severe or fatal accidents.
Unfortunately, some drivers do not take this duty of care seriously. They take risks while behind the wheel and practice unsafe driving behaviors. In fact, the number one cause of truck accidents on US roadways is driver error.
Truck driver errors can take a variety of forms. Common driver errors that result in truck accidents include the following.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of all types of motor vehicle collisions. Driving distractions are anything that takes a person’s focus off of the task of driving.
There are three main types of driver distraction:
- Visual distractions: This type of distraction is anything that takes your eyes off of the road
- Manual distractions: Anything that causes you to take your hands off of the wheel is a manual distraction
- Cognitive distractions: This type of distraction occurs when your mind is not focused on driving
Common truck driver distractions include:
- Reading the GPS
- Adjusting the stereo
- Talking on the phone
- Eating or drinking
Each state carefully decides what speed limit to post on its highways. Unfortunately, some truck drivers view posted speed limits as suggestions, not law. A truck driver may drive above the posted speed limit trying to make it home early or meet delivery deadlines set by the trucking company.
Consider the following reasons why it is so dangerous when truck drivers speed:
- Longer to stop: Trucks take much longer to slow down than standard-size vehicles. Thus, when truck drivers are speeding, they have less time to stop or slow down when a dangerous situation arises.
- Loss of control: The faster a truck is traveling, the more difficult it is to control. Sharp turns and wet roads may cause a driver to lose control and roll his or her vehicle.
- Load shift: The faster a truck is going, the more likely that its load will shift in transport if the driver must brake or swerve suddenly. This increases the risk of a rollover or jackknife accident.
- Inclement weather: Rain, snow, and sleet can result in slippery road conditions that could cause truck drivers to lose traction and control of their rigs. Even if a trucker is driving the posted speed limit, he or she is “speeding” if overdriving weather and road conditions.
- Risk of serious injuries: The massive size and weight of a semi or tractor-trailer already mean greater risk of serious injuries occurring in the event of an accident. The risk of severe injuries or fatalities increases further the faster the truck is traveling.
Professional truck drivers often work long hours, sometimes starting early in the morning and working until late at night. Sleep deprivation and the lack of a regular sleep schedule leave drivers overly fatigued while behind the wheel.
Drowsiness or fatigue can affect a driver’s coordination, concentration, reaction time, and judgment. In some situations, truck drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel, causing severe accidents and injuries.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established rules regarding how long a trucker can drive without breaks or rest. Sadly, truck drivers and the companies they work for often put profits ahead of safety and ignore these rules far too often.
Driving under the influence
In most states, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle if their blood alcohol level (BAC) is higher than .08 percent. However, for commercial truck drivers, that level is .04 percent.
There are several reasons why the BAC for commercial truck drivers is lower than the BAC requirements for standard drivers:
- Commercial drivers often operate vehicles much larger than passenger vehicles, increasing the risk of severe injuries occurring in the event of an accident
- Commercial drivers, such as bus and taxi drivers, may transport numerous passengers, making them responsible not just for their own safety but that of others as well
- Commercial drivers may transport hazardous substances, such as gasoline and toxic chemicals, posing an additional health risk if an accident were to occur
The FMCSA also mandates that commercial drivers do not operate their vehicles within 4 hours of consuming alcohol. Truck drivers caught driving with a BAC of over .04 percent can face criminal charges and the suspension or revocation of their commercial driver’s license.
Improper lane changes
Another dangerous truck driver error is improper lane changes. Due to the large size of the vehicles they are operating, truck drivers need to take extra caution before changing lanes or merging.
Blind spots can make lane changes especially dangerous. Semis and 18-wheelers have blind spots on the sides of the trailer, in front of the cab, and behind the trailer. In addition, because of a tractor-trailer’s size and weight, these immense vehicles need more time to stop. This means that if the truck driver realizes there is a problem while changing lanes, it can be more difficult to stop or slow down.
Lane-changing mistakes that have resulted in devastating accidents include:
- Failing to check blind spots
- Speeding while merging into other lanes of traffic
- Weaving in between lanes
- Failing to signal
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Cutting off other drivers
- Changing lanes while in an intersection
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Have you or someone you love been severely injured in a truck accident? If so, the personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Group are here to help. We will sit down with you and carefully listen as you tell us how the accident occurred and how it has impacted your life. Our legal team will then discuss your legal options with you.
Many truck accident victims are concerned about the stress and expense of having to go to court. Let us put your mind at ease. First, the majority of truck accident cases are handled out of court during settlement negotiations with the insurance company. Second, our personal injury lawyers work on contingency. You do not owe us anything until we recover compensation for you.
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