Tractor trailers are essential to the American economy, delivering goods across the country. While you may feel at ease driving alongside tractor trailers, these massive vehicles pose a significant danger to motorists on the road. Accidents involving large trucks can have devastating and catastrophic outcomes. According to the National Safety Council, 5,005 people were killed in large truck accidents throughout the country over the course of a year. This death rate has increased by 43% over the past 12 years. Furthermore, 118,000 commercial trucks were involved in accidents resulting in injury. Whether you have been injured in a truck accident or know someone who has, it is important to know your rights and options when taking care of the situation.
Why Are Tractor Trailers Dangerous?
Large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is 20 to 30 times as much as a standard vehicle, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute. High profile trucks are tall, and a greater ground clearance makes it easier for smaller vehicles to slide beneath. Semi trucks can pull up to three trailers, and may be a maximum of 65 feet in length. All of these massive dimensions make large trucks targets for bad weather conditions, and other deadly hazards
Slow To Stop
Big rigs require a greater distance to slow down and stop when compared to smaller vehicles. This is due to the weight and speed of the truck. If truck drivers fail to brake or slow down for traffic, they may hit the cars in front of them.
Bad Weather Conditions
Slick and icy roads can cause truck drivers to lose control of their vehicles. This may result in skidding, sliding and jackknifing. The height of large trucks can cause them to tip over easily in heavy winds.
When truck loads are unevenly distributed or not secured properly, packages and products can shift during transit. This may cause certain parts of the truck to malfunction or fail from excessive strain. The truck driver may have difficulty operating the truck depending on which direction the load has shifted. Problems may also occur if the load is too heavy for the truck’s capacity.
What Are Types Of Truck Driver Negligence?
There are several ways in which truckers may act in a negligent manner and impact the safety of others. This negligence may include drowsy driving, distracted driving, drunk driving and aggressive driving. Truckers, who do not perform comprehensive inspections on their vehicles to ensure everything is working properly, also act in a negligent manner.
Violating Hours-Of-Service Regulations
Research shows that truckers who spend more than eight hours behind the wheel are twice as likely to get involved in an accident. Truck driver fatigue involves mental and physical exhaustion from driving for long periods of time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association enforces hours-of-service regulations in an attempt to minimize truck driver fatigue and reduce truck accidents. These rules require the following:
- Truckers may drive for a maximum of 11 hours after resting for 10 consecutive hours
- Truckers must take a 30 minute break after driving for 8 consecutive hours without interruption
- Truckers cannot drive after spending 60 to 70 hours behind the wheel within 7 to 8 consecutive days until they have had a break of at least 34 hours
Many trucks have electronic logs to keep track of breaks and drive time. However, truckers who still use manual logs may easily change their entries to spend more time on the road.
Driving While Distracted
Just as motorists may become distracted while driving, truckers may also divert their attention off the road and onto another task. After spending hours behind the wheel, truckers may engage in the following distractions:
- Adjusting the radio
- Listening to music or an audiobook
- Talking or texting with a cellphone
- Taking selfies and posting them to social media
- Using dispatch devices or monitors
Truckers may also get distracted when looking at billboards or passing scenery. When truckers take their eyes off the road, it increases the risk of a deadly accident.
Driving While Under The Influence
Once a truck driver is cited for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are prohibited from operating a truck until cleared by the FMCSA. Yet, a number of commercial truck drivers continue to get behind the wheel of tractor trailers, as truckers are in high demand and extremely hard to come by. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a national database designed to give government agencies and employers access to truck driver violations.
A trucker with road rage is extremely dangerous, as they can cause significant damage with their massive vehicles. Angered truckers may follow cars too closely, cut off other vehicles or speed. If cars must stop quickly, they could hit the back of a vehicle and cause serious damage.
Failing To Maintain The Truck
Truck companies and truck drivers must ensure their trucks are safe to drive. Proper maintenance and inspections are key to preventing a potential accident. Before a truck leaves for a route, the company and/or driver must check the following:
Defective equipment was a factor in 56% of truck accident cases over the course of a year. If the brakes fail, a tire blows or the steering freezes, the truck driver no longer has control of the vehicle.
What are the potential injuries?
If you are involved in a large truck accident, you may suffer from a number of injuries. Although some may be easily treated, others may result in long-term issues that could affect your quality of life and ability to work. Potential injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain damage
- Broken bones
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Nerve pain
Serious injuries can lead to extensive medical expenses. If you require long-term care for your injuries, such as rehabilitation and in-home accommodations, the expenses may become more than you can handle. Your injuries may make it impossible to return to work or could force you to find another type of work. You shouldn’t have to suffer from overwhelming medical bills and lost wages because of another person’s negligence.
Should You Contact Your Insurance Company?
The insurance company may contact you to obtain more information regarding the nature of your accident. Although you may answer the questions honestly and in a forthright manner, the insurance agent may use those responses to build a case against you. It is best to give short, direct responses when answering questions, such as the date and location of the accident. You may want to speak with an attorney before answering any further questions regarding specific details of the accident and any injuries you’ve received.
When Is It Time To Partner With An Attorney?
As the victim of truck driver negligence, you deserve reliable and aggressive representation from an experienced attorney. You deserve the Stone Cold Guarantee, meaning you will never pay for our services unless we win your case. You also deserve a free consultation, where we will discuss the details of the accident and work together to create a solid case. Jason Stone’s team of dependable attorneys is ready and eager to assist you with your case. There’s No Obligation, Just Information.