This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.
Every day zig-zagging across the USA can be over 15 million trucks, of those there are 2 million tractor-trailers. They cover over 400 billion miles a year. Trucking is big business. With that amount of trucking traffic, obviously, accidents are a by-product of their activity. It is estimated that every 15-20 minutes, there is an accident that occurs as a result of a truck or trailer. There are over 500,000 accidents across the US each year with over 5,000 deaths. Of these deaths, over 60% occur in rural areas as opposed to a city, and more than half happen during daylight hours. You might think that hazardous weather plays its part, but now, over 70% of accidents occur on dry roads and on bright days.
In 2014 there were over 6 million crashes with nearly half a million involving a large truck or a bus, that was a 22% increase compared to the previous year. The estimated cost of these accidents, including death and injury and damage to property, was $112 billion.
There are, of course, many causes of trucking accidents. Most involve another passenger vehicle. Given the enormous weight of trucks and trailers and the difference in weight between a truck and a passenger vehicle, plus the speed that they are traveling at the point of impact, the results are usually fatalities or very serious injury.
Here are some of the common causes of these accidents:
Driver tiredness, particularly in truck drivers, has been continually highlighted as an accident issue. Truck drivers will drive thousands of miles in a matter of a few days.
The other issue is that drivers are usually paid by the mile, hence giving them the incentive to drive as many miles as they can in a shorter time as possible.
Federal laws do exist to limit the number of hours that a driver can be at the wheel. Never the less this does not stop driver tiredness being cited as one of the leading causes of trucking accidents.
Of course, Federal laws also exist to cover the upkeep and maintenance of trucks.
One of the most fundamental laws is that truck operators are prohibited from allowing a commercial vehicle on the road if they suspect is in danger of breaking down or causing an accident. Truck drivers are required to carry out a pre-trip and post-trip inspection and highlight any concerns on their log.
Two of the most common mechanical causes of truck accidents are faulty brakes and issues with tires. At least five percent of truck accidents are caused by faulty brakes. If you consider that brakes are the one thing that stands between a 50,000-pound vehicle traveling at high speed impacting on another it is imperative that brakes are kept in pristine condition. It is the truck operators who are responsible that they employ suitably trained brake specialists to ensure all truck brakes are operating as soundly as they should.
The other mechanical issue that can lead to a catastrophic accident is that of tires. You may have seen it yourself on the side of the road, shredded rubber tires from a blown-out truck. Once again, like any vehicle owner, it is the truck driver’s responsibility to ensure that all his tires have the required air pressures. Even one lousy tire that is in poor condition or lacks the required pressure needed can compromise the whole vehicle. Tires must also meet the required Federal standards for depth and tread and match in wear levels and size.
Having all these aspects in place will help minimize the incidence of a blowout.
A distracted driver is someone who is operating a vehicle while their vision or hand movements are off the task of driving.
The most common cause of this is the use of a cellphone while driving. Studies have found that you are six times more likely to be involved in an accident if you are using a cell phone. One of the most fatal of crashes occurred which killed 13 people, was due to a truck driver using his cellphone in rural Texas. The department of transport in the US estimated that there were over 1.5 million accidents caused by cell phone use while driving with total fatalities over 6,000.
The rules as the same for any driver, only hands-free use is allowed in any vehicle. However, some studies have found that even using hands-free can be just as distracting.
Other distractions such as fiddling with the radio, setting the GPS, eating and drinking at the wheel can all other forms of distracted driving.
Another not so well known cause of trucking accidents is the use by trucking companies of inexperienced drivers. Some truck drivers undertake a basic training course then they are thrust in the driving seat of a truck or semi-trailer. The inexperienced driver is sometimes attractive for the truck company as they can pay them less per mile. However, this makes them more liable to have an accident as they are usually unfamiliar with the layout and function of their rig.
The backing up of a truck or semi-trailer can also be a cause of an accident. Sometimes the location, if the truck is backing up in a busy area that has other pedestrians and cars can easily distract the driver. Most trucks have backed up alarms, but some drivers don’t use them, which makes them more hazardous for nonroad users.
Had a Truck Accident? – Consult a Trucking Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured or had a loved one killed or injured as the result of a trucking accident, you need the right expert help. Attorneys will review all the evidence, police reports, witness statements, and evaluate why the accident happened and who was at fault.
This content is brought to you by Sameer Negi.