Truck drivers assume huge responsibilities when they obtain their licenses and get behind the wheels of their tractor trailers or other big rigs. They're responsible for the truck and its contents, which is sometimes toxic and dangerous to others. They also have the power to affect the lives of other drivers on the road with their actions. If large truck drivers aren’t careful, they can cause accidents, which result in devastating injuries and fatalities.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highways Loss Data Institute conducts highway safety research. In 2014, it reports that a total of 3,660 people died in truck accidents. About 16 percent of the deaths were truck occupants; 68 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles; and 15 percent were pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.
Dangerous accidents are often the result of truck driver negligence. If you've been the victim of such an incident, you may be able to prove negligence with the help of a truck accident attorney, and receive compensation to put you on the road to recovery.
Certain Actions Make Accidents Unavoidable
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) examined some of the common actions that caused unavoidable accidents. According to its report, crashes often occurred after truck drivers:
Ran out of the travel lane. This could be due to veering into another lane or going off the road. About 32 percent of the large trucks in the study were involved in accidents because of this action.
Lost vehicle control. Loss of control might happen because the driver traveled too fast for conditions; traveled beyond capacity for poor road conditions; or vehicle system failure or cargo shift. Approximately 29 percent of the truck accidents studied occurred for these reasons.
Experienced rear-end collisions. A truck driver colliding with the rear end of another vehicle usually happens because loaded rigs and trailers take up to 40 percent longer to stop. The study found that around 22 percent of the accidents took place after this action occurred.
Driver Negligence Is the Primary Cause of Accidents
The LTCCS indicates that while some of the accidents happened due to unforeseen health issues, such as truck drivers having heart attacks or seizures, many were the result of negligence. Some of the most common types of driver negligence include:
Aggressive driving. Speeding, following other vehicles too closely, changing lanes unsafely, and other forms of reckless driving are prime examples of how truck drivers cause accidents by driving aggressively. Often, they engage in these behaviors because they're rushing to meet deadlines.
Distracted driving. Texting, emailing, engaging in social media, and talking on the phone are highly distracting for big rig drivers—so much so, there are federal regulations restricting mobile phone use. But other forms of distraction, such as reading a newspaper, reaching for items in the cab, and looking at billboards also avert drivers' attention long enough to put them in dangerous positions.
Drowsy driving. Certain medications and long road hours are often to blame for a driver’s inability to stay awake. His reaction time drops, making accidents more possible.
Drug and alcohol abuse. Drivers may use certain drugs in order to stay awake while driving, and then take sleeping pills to fall asleep when they're finally off the road. The effects of these drugs, as well as drinking alcohol, can cause problems for them when they get behind the wheel.
Exceeding hours-of-service rules. Truckers are obligated to follow hours-of-service rules, which are federal laws that mandate how long someone can drive without resting, and how often she must take breaks. A driver may knowingly violate these laws in order to make a tight deadline, and the trucking company may look the other way. Working these difficult hours could result in the truck driver causing an accident.
Proving Truck Driver Negligence Was to Blame for Your Accident
If you think your truck accident was caused by driver negligence, an experienced attorney will conduct the research you need to prove this, which may enable you to receive the compensation you deserve for expenses related to the accident. Schedule your free consultation with an attorney from Kennedy Hodges, LLP by calling 855.947.0707 and find out how we may be able to help you.