Truck Collision Lawyers – Trucking Accident Attorneys
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LARGE TRUCK ACCIDENTS – COMMON CAUSES
Big rig accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the crash is the truck driver’s fault and other times, the other driver’s fault. Drivers of other vehicles sometimes try to illegally pass large trucks on the highway or freeway thereby causing the accident. But studies have shown that when these accidents are caused because of the truck driver, the following causes are very likely:
Truck Driver Fatigue
A tired driver is a dangerous one. Truck drivers often transport a variety of goods from one part of the country to another. As a result, they end up working continuous long hours. However, federal laws are very clear on how long truckers can drive. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in April 2003 instituted new “hours of service regulations” to address the concern of truck driver fatigue and the high number of accidents attributed to this problem. Although this has helped curb the number of truck accidents, driver fatigue is still believed to be a factor in one-fourth of all truck accidents.
The law allows truck drivers to operate their vehicles for a total of 11 hours in a 24-hour work period and not more than 14 hours. The law mandates that they take a consecutive 10 hours break before the start of the next work period. Studies and investigations have repeatedly shown that truck drivers and their companies have broken this hour-of-service law. Companies have been fined for allowing drivers to falsify their hours so it appears as if they have been following this law. Truck drivers are required to maintain extensive logs and other paperwork to demonstrate compliance.
Alcohol and drug abuse
Companies who employ truck drivers are required to test their drivers to verify their use of alcohol and/or drugs. Driving a large commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have disastrous consequences. A driver does not even have to be inebriated to cause an accident. Even a lower blood alcohol level or drug use can impair the truck driver’s judgment on the freeway. A recent study of big rig drivers by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that 15 percent of all drivers had marijuana in their system; 12 percent had non-prescription stimulants; 5 percent had prescription stimulants and 2 percent had cocaine. Less than 1 percent of the drivers had alcohol in their system. While a small percentage of truck accidents are caused because the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driver fatigue still causes a majority of truck accidents.
Safe driving practices are important for all drivers, but they assume special significance when someone is driving a vehicle that could weigh up to 80,000 pounds and pulling a large load. Speeding, reckless driving, dangerously changing lanes are all driving practices that could cause a truck accident – which could easily claim lives because of the intensity of these crashes.
Distractions such as cell phones, pagers, computers, and texting have become part of our driving experience. In some cases, truck drivers may be distracted and lose control of their vehicles when they are using a cell phone or doing something else such as eating while driving.
Improper vehicle maintenance
Truck drivers and their companies are required to inspect their vehicles periodically and make sure there are no malfunctions. They must inspect brakes, taillights and tires. Next to driver fatigue, improper vehicle maintenance is said to cause the largest truck accidents.
Drivers get most of their knowledge of safe driving practices based on their experience. When trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers, even those who’ve only been driving for a few days or weeks and put them on long shifts, the results can be catastrophic. Trucking companies must ensure that their drivers are experienced and knowledgeable enough to take the wheel.
Large 18 wheelers are particularly prone to what is known as “jackknifing.” This type of accident occurs under certain conditions particularly when drivers apply brakes suddenly and their axle brakes lock up. This essentially causes the truck to skid and go on a 90-degree angle relative to the rig’s cab. This could occur at low or high speeds. These accidents can usually be avoided by careful braking and additional driver training.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck, 18-wheeler, or big rig accident – whatever the cause may be – call our experienced and efficient truck accident attorneys to find out about your legal rights and how to protect them. Our accident investigators will complete a thorough investigation of your case, make every effort to protect important evidence and get you the compensation and damages you rightfully deserve. Call our Law firm today to schedule your free appointment.
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