With the number of fatal trucking accidents continuing to climb, there is little evidence to suggest trucking companies and commercial truck drivers are doing enough to prevent these catastrophes.
Truckers who speed, truck drivers impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs, inattentive truckers, and trucking companies that ignore proper maintenance are all major causes of deadly commercial truck crashes.
Fully loaded tractor-trailers weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, so occupants of passenger cars likely suffer grave injuries when hit by a big rig. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the number of non-truck occupants who died in truck crashes in 2018 jumped nearly 10% between 2017 and 2018, which is the most recent year for finalized reporting.
Keeping these factors in mind – a lack of concern for safety by the trucking industry and the catastrophic consequences that occur from such carelessness – drivers should heed actions they can take to help protect themselves from commercial truck crashes.
Distracted Semi-Truck Drivers
Distracted driving has become such a serious danger that the National Transportation Safety Board placed “Eliminating Distracted Driving” on its “2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Improvements.”
Distracted semi- truck drivers pose a high risk for multi-vehicle crashes. Truckers who are on their cell phones (federal rules prohibit truckers from holding their phones), looking at their GPS or for some other reason taking their focus off the road may swerve out of their lane without warning.
Therefore, drivers approaching tractor-trailers should do so with an abundance of caution. Inattentive truckers may not be monitoring their side mirrors and missing vehicles in the blind spots they have on both sides. Be sure to give a large commercial truck as much room as feasible to avoid those blind spots.
Take care when passing commercial trucks, leaving plenty of room between yourself and the rig as you re-enter the lane ahead. Trucks take much longer to stop than passenger cars. At highway speeds it could take the length of several football fields for a tractor-trailer to come to a halt. When a truck driver is not paying attention, this stopping time and space is even greater.
Speeding Truck Drivers and Serious Accidents
Avoid passing commercial trucks when going downhill. Trucks tend to pick up speed traveling downhill.
Speeding truck drivers are an everyday danger. Last July, during its annual Operation Safe Driver Week, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance issued nearly 1,500 speeding tickets to truck drivers. Speeding and driving too fast for road conditions were the top citations the CVSA gave to truck drivers during the event.
Trucks can be dangerous anywhere, not only on the highway. According to the National Safety Council, in 2018 almost 75% of deaths in truck crashes occurred on non-interstate roadways.
So drivers should be wary of trucks taking wide turns on smaller roads. And not just in the dark of night. The NSC reports that 64% of fatal truck crashes in 2018 occurred during the day.
Drivers can and should be as careful as possible when sharing the road with commercial trucks. But despite all the caution they take, they often are the innocent victims of careless actions of truck drivers or their employers.
If you had a family member die or you were seriously hurt in a crash involving a large commercial truck, speak with a truck accident lawyer about your legal rights to just compensation for your losses.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles March 31, 2020