Commercial trucks play an essential role in society. Most of the daily necessities that we get from supermarkets have been distributed by a truck at one point. They also serve as a mode of transportation used for delivering vital public services such as garbage collection, firefighting, and construction services.
However, truck driving can be a dangerous profession, as even the slightest error can cause the large vehicle to veer out of control and run into other motorists, pedestrians, or buildings.
It’s not just a risk for the trucker, but the property and life around them.
Truck accidents take place in the USA every day, which results in thousands of injuries and deaths annually.
As such, the data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) collected the following regarding the fatal truck accidents that occurred in 2018.
- A total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes.
- 67% of the deaths in truck crashes were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.
- 16% of these deaths were occupants of the truck.
- 15% of these deaths were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.
- 96% of vehicle occupants killed in a car-large truck crash were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
- 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in large truck crashes.
- 74% of deaths in large truck crashes were in crashes involving tractor-trailers, and 27% were in crashes involving single-unit trucks.
- 51% of deaths in large truck crashes occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. 33% occurred on interstates and highways, and 14% occurred on minor roads.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
● Driver Error
Truckers often engage in unsafe driving practices that result in making errors that lead to fatal road accidents. Some of the most common driver errors are the following:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMSCA) found that truckers are 23 times more likely to cause a crash when they’re texting while driving.
Commercial truck drivers need to keep their full attention on the road for safety. However, the long hours on the road and the remote or repetitive scenic areas make it easy for them to get the urge to engage in other activities to entertain themselves.
As a result, truck drivers partake in multi-tasking that takes their eyes off the road. Besides talking on cell phones, they also eat, fiddle with GPS systems, and use the CB radio all while driving, which are major distractions.
Speeding is never safe when driving, but it can veer beyond negligence into irresponsible recklessness for truck drivers who know it takes longer to slow down to stop than a passenger vehicle.
Since commercial truck drivers are often on a tight schedule, they are forced to rush to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. However, the weight of large commercial vehicles makes it difficult to slow down and to turn, especially at higher speeds.
o Drinking and Substance Use
Truck driving entails long hours of isolation that can bring about loneliness, boredom, and even depression for many truckers. Some truckers might find solace in alcohol or drugs during their desolate life on the road.
For others, substance abuse is a non-stop cycle which starts by using drugs to stay awake to drive longer and farther, then need alcohol or marijuana for sleep, and then begin the cycle once again by using more substance to ease a hangover and drive again.
n, it may be impossible for the truck driver to work without using some substance.
Continuous alcohol and substance intake come with several consequences, including impairing their ability to drive which can lead to an accident.
The work of commercial drivers can be demanding, as they’re forced to work with unrealistic schedules and expectations from truck companies that lead to less than adequate sleep and a tendency towards ongoing fatigue.
According to the Transport Accident Commission, more than 20% of road fatalities were suspected of having resulted from fatigue. Drowsiness has a massive impact on your driving as it slows down your reaction time, reduces your concentration, vigilance, and judgment.
● Vehicle Error
When there are vehicle-related errors, it doesn’t matter if a safe and rule-compliant trucker drives the truck. The truck can still cause a severe and deadly crash if there are problems with the large vehicle itself, including:
o Design Defects
Defective vehicles can cause accidents that can injure and kill innocent people. A manufacturer can make a mistake while building the truck which can be dangerous when these parts are essential for safety such as airbags, brakes, and tires.
These defects exist because sometimes the manufacturer makes a mistake while building the vehicle. Even when these parts are manufactured, installed, and used correctly, improper designs are hazardous.
o Maintenance Errors
Trucking companies, drivers, and maintenance crews need to regularly maintain the fleet to keep up with the immense wear and tear that these vehicles endure from being driven hundreds of miles every day.
Drivers that don’t perform daily inspections can overlook maintenance problems. Eventually, serious issues such as tire blowouts, braking problems, and engine failure can arise and lead to major traffic accidents.
o Cargo Issues
Truck drivers and commercial truck companies need to abide by the industry-specific rules and regulations for safe cargo loads. This includes limited cargo dimensions and how it should be loaded and secured.
These rules exist to try to reduce the chances of accidents happening due to problems with the cargo that a truck driver is transporting. Unfortunately, truckers don’t always follow the rules and load cargo in unsafe ways.
As a result, this creates a severe risk of truck collisions as improper load cargo can put the truck out of balance and cause harm to the truck driver and other motorists on the road.
Tips to Avoid Truck Accidents
Every day, families share the same roads and highways with trucks. To minimize the number of truck accidents, everyone must do their part and behave responsibly while driving.
● Focus on the Road. Highway driving can be tedious, especially to truck drivers who have to spend a lot of time doing nothing but drive. However, no drivers should engage in activities that will take your mind, hands, or eyes off the road. This includes texting, eating, or drinking.
If you begin to feel tired or need to respond to urgent text messages, find a safe place to pull over to prevent a dangerous situation from occurring.
● Leave Plenty of Space Between You and the Truck. Avoid being near a truck for too long as it can put you in danger of tire blowouts, which tears off tire remnants from the truck and can hit your windshield. Also keep your distance behind a truck to prevent your car from sliding under the truck if it would stop suddenly, or getting crushed if the truck would roll backwards.
● Avoid Blind Spots. While every vehicle has a blind spot where the driver can’t see specific areas, the physical size of a truck means that it has bigger blind spots than passenger cars. Take care not to drive in the area located in front and behind the truck which is commonly referred to as “No Zones.”
● Anticipate Wide Turns. A truck needs much room to maneuver and turn. Avoid following too closely and leave trucks plenty of space to make wide turns at intersections and never try squeezing between a turning truck and the curb as it will put you and your passengers in danger.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you have rights and may be entitled to recover compensation depending on the gravity of your situation.
The Truck Accident Injury Attorney at the Brown Firm will be willing to assist you in any legal matters relating to these accidents.
Contact the Brown Firm today at (912) 200-9755 or visit our website at www.harrybrownlaw.com to learn more about our services or receive a free legal consultation.