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Tired Truckers and Trucks with Mechanical Defects Cause Serious Accidents

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A new study reinforces the common-sense notion that tired truck drivers and poorly maintained rigs are responsible for a large portion of serious trucking accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, science-driven organization that focuses on reducing catastrophic truck and car accidents.  In December 2016 it published findings of its latest research effort into the causes of truck crashes.

The findings document that trucks with mechanical issues and truck drivers who are fatigued are dangerous to others.  The study included 197 truck crashes, with more than a third of them fatal.  Researchers compared the trucks in crashes to similar trucks (size, location, date) that did not. And the trucks involved were classified as “short haul,” meaning the drivers did not make overnight trips and drove within a 100-mile radius of the operation base.

More Hours Without Stopping Greatly Increases Truck Accident Odds

Researchers examined truck driver-related factors in the crashes and found fatigue a major contributor.  Truck drivers who said they drove at least 12 consecutive hours were 86 percent more likely to be in a wreck than truckers who drove eight hours or less without stopping.

The driving period didn’t have to be as long to be truly hazardous.  The study discovered that truck drivers on the road at least five hours without rest doubled their risk for crashing compared to truckers driving under five hours straight.

These short haul drivers are subject to federal rules that limit the amount of time they can drive without resting, but they don’t have to log their hours.  The study found that these short-haul drivers were five times more likely to crash than drivers who are required to record their driving periods, such as over-the-road truckers.

Three out of Four Trucks in Crashes Had Mechanical Issues

These short haul trucks also were more likely to have safety problems than their over-the-road counterparts.  Almost 75 percent of the rigs in the study that crashed were later determined to have some sort of mechanical or equipment defect.

Trucks found to have mechanical problems so serious that they were taken off the road – called “out-of-service” violations – were four times more likely to be in an accident than other rigs.  Drilling down further, trucks with out-of-service violations and were the striking vehicle in multi-vehicle accidents were 10 times more likely to crash than trucks without any equipment problems.

Bad brakes were the most serious mechanical issue.  Trucks with out-of-service brake violations faced triple the risks of crashing versus trucks with good working brakes.

While this research documents the dangers of negligent truck drivers and trucking companies that fail to maintain their fleets, causes for catastrophic trucking accidents are often times complex.  And the trucking concerns are often uncooperative in getting to the truth.

If you had a family member killed or you were seriously hurt in an accident with a commercial truck, an experienced truck accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to determine all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by: Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. posted in Trucking Accidents on January 30, 2017