Accidents do happen, but when an accident involves something as heavy and large as a semi-truck, that accident is often catastrophic. Truck accidents account for 9 percent of traffic fatalities, and truck driver’s owe the public a greater duty of care while operating on public roads, highways and interstates based on the fact they profit from the public roads, highways and interstates.
With the demands of the trucking industry at an all-time high, truck drivers are working longer hours and companies are spending less time maintaining their commercial vehicles. As a result, the likelihood of a truck accident has increased rather than decreased.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
There are numerous reasons why truck accidents happen, but when comparing the vast majority of these incidents, there are eight commonalities between them.
- Driver Fatigue – Despite the recent changes to truck driver operating hours, some drivers and employers choose to ignore the sleep and wake time regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Drivers must have rest breaks and a specified number of hours off between shifts. Any driver or company found ignoring these regulations and causing an accident will be held liable.
- Shifting Cargo – Semi-trucks carry large and often heavy pieces of cargo, and these items must be stocked in the cargo space strategically to avoid shifting. When cargo shifts, it can fall off a flatbed trailer. In a closed trailer, it can make the vehicle become unbalanced or even force the semi-truck’s trailer to roll.
- Poor Road Conditions – While semi-trucks do surprisingly well in wintry conditions, the driver still must exercise caution in inclement weather. When a semi-truck driver fails to slow his speeds to match the weather, tragedies can occur.
- Driver Inattention – Distracted driving affects commercial drivers in much the same way as private motorists. In fact, due to the extended number of hours on the road, semi-truck drivers are actually more likely to fall prey to distractions.
- Mechanical Failures – Commercial companies and drivers are required to maintain their semi-trucks and trailers. When these systems have faulty safety equipment, such as a defective air brake system, it can lead to a catastrophic accident.
- Speeding – Due to the demands on the industry, drivers may be tempted to speed to their destination – especially if they are offered a delivery time bonus by their customer or employer. A speeding commercial vehicle with cargo onboard can obliterate the average passenger vehicle and lead to a fatal accident.
- Debris on the Highway – Debris on the highway may force a semi-truck driver to quickly maneuver and attempt to avoid the object. This can lead to a jackknife situation, or the driver accidentally striking a vehicle in the other lane.
- Passenger Vehicle Errors – It is not always the driver of the commercial vehicle who is at fault. Sometimes, car drivers can grow impatient when they feel that a large truck is too slow. They often speed up in an attempt to pass the semi-truck. However, if they pull out in front of the truck and brake suddenly, they could be the cause of an accident. Also, if they assume that the driver will see them when they pull out in front of the truck – they may be wrong – and end up in the hospital.
Holding Drivers and Companies Responsible
If you have any questions about the particular challenges of truck accidents, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Schedule a no-obligation consultation now by calling Shlosman Law Firm at 504-826-9427 or request your free case evaluation online.