There are a lot contributing factors that may cause major trucking accidents. Many of these factors are easily preventable. Truck accidents are usually worse than normal auto accident accidents. There can have far more devastating consequences, especially for the regular vehicles involved in the accident with a bigger truck. It’s common practice for the trucking companies to force their drivers to push the limits of how long someone can drive without rest and put the lives of everyone on the road at risk. If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries, damages and losses, but only an experienced truck accident attorney can help you.
Here are some common causes of truck accidents:
- Driver Fatigue: The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that driver fatigue is the cause of 20 to 40 percent of all truck accidents. That’s a huge percentage and to prevent these accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes limits on the number of hours a driver is allowed to drive without resting. These rules have helped lower the amount of accidents but, they are not always followed by drivers or the trucking firms. It’s a type of rule that is hard to enforce. When it comes down to it, the responsibility trucking companies have is to make sure their drivers are following these regulations. The companies must also maintain proper records of their time driving on the road.
- Distracted driving: Some distractions that lead to trucking accidents are talking on a hand-held cell phone, eating or using a laptop while driving a truck. You may be thinking that no one in their right mind would do these activities while driving a huge truck but it happens a lot and has caused catastrophic injuries or even death to innocent victims. Texting is also a major form of distracted driving. Although, some states have banned texting while driving (like California) the U.S. Department of Transportation has recently banned texting by commercial truck drivers and bus drivers, while driving across the entire U.S.
- Jackknifing: A lot of people know what the truck “jackknife” is but here is how they are caused. When a truck driver suddenly slams on their vehicles brakes, the momentum of the trailer is not stopped at the same speed as the truck it is attached to causing the trailer to swing out. You can imagine in even light traffic how dangerous this can be. Poorly adjusted brakes, downshifting improperly, turning too fast and accelerating on slick surfaces can also cause a jackknife.
- Truck underride accidents – Truck trailer underride accidents occur when the front of a passenger vehicle, especially a small passenger car, contacts the rear or side of a truck trailer. In such cases the smaller car might get crushed under the trailer causing major damage to the car and most likely to the passengers. The trucking firms have the responsibility to install rear guards and other underride protections in their trucks to prevent such serious accidents.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: Trucking companies have the responsibility to make sure that their trucks are maintained well and in proper condition. Driver must inspect the vehicle, especially tires and brakes, before getting on the road (sometimes even making a log of this). Trucking companies bare the liability in accidents caused by malfunctioning equipment as a result of poor vehicle maintenance.
- Reckless or aggressive driving: It seems like common sense that while driving an 80,000-pound vehicle, safe driving practices are critical. It’s a fact that aggressive or reckless driving and speeding in a big rig truck can result in catastrophic truck accidents.
- Driving under the influence: Commercial drivers are subject to random drug or alcohol testing at any time. Employers are also required by law to have their drivers’ drug tested. Like any other law, a number of people (and companies) do not follow these federal regulations. As a result, thousands of innocent commuters are injured or killed each year in trucking accidents involving alcohol or drug use on the part of the truck driver.
Little known to the public, each trucking company has an insurance company on their side ready to settle their accidents quickly and as cheaply as possible. It is important that you have a truck accident lawyer working diligently for you, who will make sure you get the compensation you deserve.