We have all likely experienced fear as a large truck looms next to us on the road or highway. These commercial trucks far outmatch passenger vehicles in both size and weight, making an accident between the two a potentially devastating event. These trucks are undoubtedly large, but their size is not what causes accidents. What are some of the most common causes of truck accidents?
This may seem basic, but many truck drivers cause accidents the same way that passenger vehicle drivers cause them. Unsafe driving practices such as speeding, unsafe lane changes and even drunk driving are not exclusive to passenger vehicle drivers. The major difference is that when a trucker drives dangerously, the resulting accident is usually much worse than an accident that a small car could cause.
There are also accidents that are unique to commercial motor vehicles (CMV). Defective truck equipment is one possibility. 18-wheelers are made up of a complicated network of parts and mechanics. If any one part is defective or is not tuned-up properly, then serious accidents can result. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry, and requires frequent maintenance checks of trucks. Checking for defects is a high priority at truck scales that you might see scattered across U.S. interstates.
Sometimes, truckers are issued citations for defective truck parts such as balding tires are broken headlights. Unfortunately, many drivers do not take the time to stop and have the necessary repairs made. When truckers fail to heed these citations and drive with a defective part for longer than permitted, serious accidents will likely occur and innocent people can be injured or killed.
While truckers and other drivers alike can cause accidents because of substance abuse, truckers are held to a stricter standard by the FMCSA. While drivers over 21 can be arrested for DUI with .08 percent BAC, a trucker can be arrested for DUI with .04 percent or higher BAC. The Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety conducted a study and made some shocking discoveries. Out of the tractor-trailer drivers studies, 15 percent had marijuana in their system, 12 percent had non-prescription stimulants in their system, 5 percent had prescription stimulants, 2 percent had cocaine and less than 1 percent had alcohol in their system while driving. While illegal, this is not necessarily surprising. Commercial drivers must work long hours and somehow stay awake, which is why many resort to stimulants.
In a similar vein, another cause of accidents unique to truckers is falling asleep at the wheel. The FMCSA has implemented Hours of Service regulations that limit the amount of time that a trucker can drive consecutively without stopping for a resting break or "clocking out." Because drivers have to get their cargo to its destination on time, many truckers forego the required breaks and instead drive while extremely fatigued. In a National Transportation Safety Board study, out of 107 truck crashes evaluated, 52 percent of them were caused by trucker fatigue.
The type of cargo can also cause truck accidents. Truckers carry all sorts of cargo, but if it is not properly secured then it can shift during operation and cause serious accidents. Some truckers even carry extremely hazardous materials as their cargo. If the hazardous materials become unstable, it can prove devastating for the driver and other nearby vehicles on the road.
While this is not a comprehensive list, it serves as a good starting point for considering the common causes of truck accidents. If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident, we are here to help. At Fox, Goldblatt & Singer, our goal is to advocate for the rights of accident victims so that they can receive justice and maximum financial compensation. To learn more about our firm and how we may be able to assist you, call today.