Truck Accidents in the United States
Did you know that over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year in the United States alone? Even more are injured or disabled in road crashes in the United States, 2.35 million people are injured/disabled annually. Approximately 4,000 of these crash-related fatalities are a direct result of crashes involving large trucks. Large trucks refer to 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, cement trucks, buses, etc.… These trucks can cause catastrophic damage when involved in a collision due to their substantial size. Often, large truck crashes lead to significant injuries or death.
The number of large truck crashes that result in injury or fatality has been increasing in recent years; the number of crashes with injures has increased by 60% and the number of crashes with fatalities has increased by 25%. In this article, we will explore the Top 5 Causes of Large Truck Accidents and explore our Top 5 Safety Tips for Avoiding Large Truck Accidents. It is important to note that large truck accidents are most likely to occur on major roads other than interstates/freeways; often, these accidents occur during daytime and during the work week (Monday-Friday).
What are the Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents?
When you are driving a small family car, you are placed in a vulnerable situation when sharing the road with large trucks. Large trucks typically weigh 20-30 times more than a family vehicle. The large trucks require more turn room, more height clearance, and more distance to break. Here is our list of the Top 5 Causes of Large Truck Accidents:
- Fatigue — We all know that truck drivers face demanding schedules and deadlines. As a result, driver fatigue is the most common factor in large truck related accidents. Most truck drivers commute over long distances for many hours with inadequate rest time. Federal regulations allow truck drivers to be on the road for up to 11 hours in one day and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period. However, trucking companies and their drivers often violate these regulations. Truck drivers face pressure to make deliveries on time in order to meet the deadlines set within their company. There is accumulated fatigue for the duration of the route as quality sleep on the road is difficult to secure. Accumulated fatigue impacts the driver’s concentration and coordination.
- Distracted Driving — Most truck drivers commute over long distances for many hours with inadequate rest time. Federal regulations allow truck drivers to be on the road for up to 11 hours in one day and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period. However, trucking companies and their drivers often violate these regulations. Truck drivers face pressure to make deliveries on time in order to meet the deadlines set within their company. There is accumulated fatigue for the duration of the route as quality sleep on the road is difficult to secure. Accumulated fatigue impacts the driver’s concentration and coordination.
- Truck Capability and Maintenance — Large trucks are required to perform at high mileage rates and high duration rates day in and day out. As a result, regular maintenance is essential to ascertain safety. A loaded tractor-trailer takes 20-40 percent farther to stop than a car; now consider a truck with poorly maintained brakes. Failing truck brakes, tire problems, and heavy loads can lead to traumatic trucking accidents. Truck defects were found in nearly 75% of all crashes involving a large truck. It is important to note here the link between trucking companies and crashes. Truck companies with higher past crash rates tend to have higher current crash rates. In fact, truck companies with higher crash rates from last year are more than 70% more likely to have a higher crash rate this year. This could be directly linked to poor truck maintenance but also to our 4th risk factor – poor driver training.
- Poor Driver Training — Truck drivers are required to obtain commercial licensure and complete a certain threshold of training hours; these specifics can vary by state. However, not all truck drivers adhere to these strict guidelines. An improperly trained driver is a disaster waiting to happen. There has also been a cultural shift with road safety which falls under this risk factor – road rage. Both trucks and cars speed, tailgate, swerve, make unsafe lane changes, and take risky routes – this is more commonly committed by a poorly trained truck driver. Trucks weigh 20-30 times more than a car, making it extremely difficult for truck driver to correct a roadway mistake.
- Driving Over the Speed Limit — Truck driving is difficult work with deadlines and destination requirements that can seem unattainable. Poor weather or severe traffic can significantly impact what the truck driver had planned for their commute each day. As a result, truck drivers may feel pressure to drive over the speed limit in order to reach their deadline. Speed limits are posted for commuter and road safety; going over the speed limit significantly reduces a truck driver’s reaction time. When driving at high speeds, drivers may be required to break immediately or suddenly veer into another section of the road; this can lead to accidents, injury, and death.
What can I do to Prevent Large Truck Accidents?
Accidents are frightening, dangerous, and often life-threatening, especially when they involve a large truck. Here are our Top 5 Safetty Tips for Avoiding Large Truck Accidents. This does not mean that an accident is inevitable, but these are words of caution for sharing the road safely with large trucks.
- Avoid the “No Zones” — Large vehicles have large blind spots. It is crucial for drivers to avoid a large truck’s blind spot whenever possible. Large trucks have blind spots at the front, back, and sides of their vehicles. Typically, if you cannot see the truck driver by looking in the truck’s side mirror then that truck driver cannot see you or your vehicle. You can slow down or move ahead to become visible to the truck driver and move out of the blind spot.
- Use Turn Signals — How many times do you see cars that never use their turn signals? These are installed for safety and for vehicle-to-vehicle communication. If you need to pass a large truck, put on your turn signal and accelerate. When you’re ready to return to the lane where the large truck is driving, make sure you are far enough ahead to safely return, and again use your turn signal to return to that lane.
- Provide Extra Room to a Truck that is Making a Turn — As mentioned previously, the sheer size of a large truck creates special driving implications. Be courteous and if you can safely provide extra room to a truck that is trying to make a turn, do so. Many trucks require 55 feet to complete a turn successfully. They often must swing wide and may even start in a middle lane to complete a wide turn. Cars sometimes drive up to the truck as they swing out, causing an accident when the truck continues its turn. Allow trucks plenty of clearance.
- Give Trucks Twice as Much Brake Space — Anything that forces a large truck to brake or stop quickly, can lead to an accident. Car drivers should take caution and provide plenty of headway before merging in front of a large truck. Give large trucks twice the space that you would give to a smaller vehicle. The truck driver may see you passing/merging in front of them but requires twice as much space to stop in order to prevent an accident.
- Pass the Truck on the Left — If you do need to pass a large truck, it is always recommended that you pass on the left-side of the truck. The right side of a large truck is filled with blind spots, making it extremely difficult for the truck driver to view obstacles on the right side. Wait, use caution, and pass the truck in the left lane when it is safe to do so (remember, use those turn signals).
Truck Accident Attorney and Settlements
When people are injured or killed as the result of large truck accidents, this can lead to large settlements. Semi-truck accidents cost $20 billion per year in accident settlements with about half of that amount awarded to injured victims who suffered a diminished or lost quality of life. Truck accidents can place a huge burden on victims and their families. Injured parties may have ongoing medical care and may experience financial stressors; families who have lost a family member to a fatal accident will experience an even greater loss.
If you have been negatively impacted by a large truck accident, let our attorneys navigate through the complex set of trucking regulations, relevant driving logs and more to help prove negligence and increase your ability to receive full compensation. The sooner we get started on the investigation, the better for you and the potential of a truck accident settlement. Contact the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson, Jr. for a free case evaluation or call us at: 803-324-7200.
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