Trucking Accidents: Common Causes & Liability
Commercial truck accidents are usually severe and more often result in injuries or deaths than accidents involving only passenger vehicles. One factor causing this increased risk is the weight difference between a truck and a passenger car. A semi-trailer truck may weigh up to 30,000 lbs. A double-trailer weighs much more. The weight of a typical passenger vehicle is around 4,000 lbs. A regular car does not stand a chance against a truck’s weight and is easily crushed in a truck accident.
A truck driver rides higher up in the cab than the driver of a passenger vehicle. The passenger vehicle driver has more risk of injury or death in a collision with a truck. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of the 2018 national truck accidents found that of the 4,136 people killed in a large truck accident,
- 15% were pedestrians, bicycle riders, or motorcyclists.
- 16% were occupants of the trucks.
- 67% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.
Here are some common causes of truck accidents:
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is the number one cause of traffic accidents.
- Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers are behind the wheel up to 70 hours per week. They frequently do not get enough rest and may not sleep well when they do.
- Alcohol and Drugs: Truck drivers may use drugs, especially stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines, to stay alert and awake. Drinking alcohol is one way they avoid boredom during the long hours of driving.
- Speeding and Passing: Most modern trucking companies use a speed-limit governor to force their drivers to remain at the correct speed. A truck with such a speed-limiting device may have trouble going fast enough to get by another vehicle when passing.
- Poor Training: New drivers and improperly trained drivers may not know how to operate a big rig safely. One common mistake is not allowing sufficient distance to slow and stop a truck moving at high speed.
- Improper Truck Maintenance: Trucks need regular maintenance and safety inspections. When going down a steep hill, brakes can fail. Tires that blow out are a common problem. When the tires are retreads, the retreading can fly off at high speeds and hit other vehicles.
- Carrying Hazardous Materials: Hazardous materials transportation has many safety requirements required by law. If a truck carrying such materials is involved in an accident, the materials spill may cause other damages and risks.
- Improper Cargo Loading: Cargo that is loaded incorrectly, not secured properly, or is placed in the truck as an unbalanced load is dangerous. These factors may cause the driver to lose control if the load suddenly shifts, especially when going around a turn at high speed.
- Bad Weather: Rain, snow, and black ice (cannot be seen by the driver) cause accidents.
- Low Overhangs: Collisions with low overhangs happen when a truck is taller than the height limit clearance.
- Traffic Infractions: Running red lights or going through stop signs without stopping may cause an accident.
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Independent owners/operators are responsible for the trucks they own and drive. Furthermore, they must, by law, maintain commercial trucking insurance.
Trucking companies are liable for the actions of the drivers that they hire or engage. Current federal law says that any company with a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has the company’s placard or name displayed on the truck. It does not matter what the truck lease says about the truck’s ownership or if the driver is an employee or an independent contractor.
In conclusion, if you or a loved one has been in an accident, make sure to contact a trusted and experienced attorney. Our network of attorneys have years of experience dealing with accidents and personal injuries. Furthermore, they will negotiate with insurance companies to get you the medical help you need, cover expenses of your damaged vehicle, and get you the compensation you deserve. CALL US ANYTIME (281) 475-4535 or fill out a consultation form here to start the process.