Common Causes of Truck Accidents
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Commercial trucks, such as tractor-trailers, eighteen-wheelers, delivery trucks, cement trucks, and dump trucks, are on nearly every roadway in America. Trucks of this type are large and powerful, weighing between 10,000-80,000 pounds. They are essential to our economy, but they also pose a risk to drivers with smaller vehicles.
If a truck driver is negligent or makes a mistake the damage can spell disaster. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently reported that nearly 5,000 people were killed in truck accidents in a single year. This doesn’t account for the thousands of others who suffered injuries.
Knowing the common causes of truck accidents can help keep you and your family safe and can be essential information if you are in a truck accident.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents we have seen at Farah & Farah include:
Truck drivers often drive long distances in short amounts of time. Drivers may not take enough breaks or get enough sleep. Fatigued drivers can be dangerous because they are more likely to miscalculate their speed, misjudge distances, or fail to keep control of their trucks.
Federal regulations state truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours straight and must take 10-hour breaks between these stretches. Drivers are also not allowed to operate more than 60 hours in a week or more than 70 hours in eight days. Some companies or individual drivers may not adhere to these regulations. Even if they follow the rules, drivers can still be fatigued and create dangerous conditions for other drivers.
Truckers who are on the road for long stretches may lose concentration. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 10% of deadly accidents and 15% of injury accidents resulted from distracted driving. Distracted driving may include:
A distracted truck driver may speed, leave their lane, or fail to stop. Any of these incidents can lead to serious harm for other drivers and property.
An overworked driver is a dangerous driver. Overworked drivers experience fatigue and stress that can lead to bad decision-making. In general, it is up to the trucking company to ensure their drivers follow regulations and get enough rest. Some companies, though, push drivers to meet unrealistic itineraries. These companies may offer incentives for driving more miles than regulations allow, which puts other drivers at risk.
Some truck drivers may consume other drugs such as methamphetamine or cocaine to stay awake on the road. Substances of any kind can impair a truck driver’s decision making and driving skills. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that truckers cannot consume alcohol on duty or within four hours of operating a commercial vehicle. Truck drivers must also undergo mandatory drug screenings.
Drivers may speed to deliver goods by an unrealistic deadline. Some truck companies use speed trackers or speed controllers to ensure drivers do not exceed limits, but not all companies have these in place. A large truck driven at high speed may not adjust in time to changes in the road or sudden stops in traffic. This is especially true if the weather conditions demand slower driving.
Trucking companies must keep brakes, lights, tires, mirrors, and other parts on their trucks in good condition. Some companies may cut corners and forego regular maintenance of their trucks because of costs or time limitations. Proper maintenance may prevent tire blowouts and other mechanical issues that can lead to accidents.
Improperly loaded cargo can create many problems for the truckers and other drivers. Cargo that is not secured correctly may:
Cargo must follow specific size, weight, width, length, and height limits. Trucking companies, third party cargo loading companies, or the drivers themselves may be responsible if cargo is improperly loaded.
Sometimes truck drivers do everything right but still cause accidents because a specific piece of technology or equipment malfunction. Common equipment malfunctions include brake failure and tire blowouts. Vehicle manufacturers, parts suppliers, or mechanics must ensure the truck itself is in working order.
Truck accidents can be complex. Determining who is liable in a truck accident is not always clear cut, and insurance companies are often quick to deflect blame. If you’re in a truck accident, the best thing you can do is secure a truck accident lawyer who can fight for you.
The truck accident lawyers at Farah & Farah have the experiences and resources to investigate your accident and build a case against those responsible. We know this can be a challenging time. Let us help you fight the legal battle so you can rest and recover.