Causes of Truck Accidents
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Truck accidents can be particularly devastating. Around 3,852 people died in large truck crashes in 2015, and 69% of these deaths were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles. Trucks can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds. Because commercial trucks are so dangerous, the trucking industry is heavily regulated to ensure the health and safety of both commercial drivers, passenger vehicle drivers, and pedestrians.
The most common cause of truck accidents is surrounding vehicles. Commercial vehicles are heavy, which means they are slow and are legally obligated to travel at lower speeds. This can often make car drivers frustrated. These impatient drivers’ reactions often are what cause the largest amount of damage.
Here are a few examples of common accident-triggering behaviors by passenger drivers:
- Changing lanes abruptly: 18-wheelers and other large, unwieldy vehicles need more time to react to any shift in environment. They can’t slow their speeds as much as a smaller car can. If a car quickly merges into the lane of a commercial truck, the truck driver may not be able to slow down in time before hitting the back of the smaller vehicle.
- Improper merging: For the same reason as above, if a car takes too long to merge in front of an oncoming truck, it is unlikely the truck driver would be able to slow down in time enough to avoid a collision.
- Unsafe passing: Impatient people might attempt to pass by a semi without gauging how much room they have. If they suddenly have to break while they are trying to pass a large truck, it could cause an accident.
- Driving in a blind spot: Many people who have driven behind a truck might have noticed the sticker on the back that says something like “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you” or “Please avoid blind spots.” Cars are much smaller than trucks and still have blind spots on either side of the vehicle. For 18-wheelers, you can imagine the blind spots are even larger. Cars driving just behind a commercial truck might be completely invisible to the driver. If the driver brakes suddenly, you may not be able to avoid hitting the back of the truck head on.
- Not allowing for wide turns: Commercial trucks require significantly more room to turn than the average passenger vehicle. They are also difficult to maneuver. A poorly executed turn could flip the truck over completely. The average turning radius of a commercial truck with a trailer is 55 feet. For right turns, this could require the 18-wheeler to be in the lane to the left of the right-turn lane. If the driver of a smaller car is unaware that the vehicle intends to turn right, he or she could attempt to make a right turn and be crushed by the oncoming semi. In other situations, some drivers might try to race by a truck, attempting to make a right turn. This can lead to a disastrous collision.
Commercial Truck Drivers/ Owners
While commercial truck drivers go through extensive training to avoid making poor decisions on the road, they can sometimes ignore their training and commit an error. Alternatively, if they don’t receive adequate training from management to begin with, they might not know the appropriate procedures for driving, securing cargo, and so on.
Here are the most common reasons that truck drivers/ owners can cause accidents:
- Fatigued/ drowsy driving: There are federal regulations on the length of time a truck driver can drive per week. Prior to these regulations, truck drivers would often attempt to work extremely long hours and forgo sleeping in order to keep to a schedule. However, driving when fatigued is almost as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Drowsy driving factors in around 20% of all fatal crashes.
- Poorly maintained truck: The people who own the truck itself are responsible for ensuring it works well and doesn’t have any serious faults. They are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their vehicles. However, when owners fail to maintain a commercial truck, this can lead to malfunctions such as faulty brakes and tire blowouts.
- Equipment failure: Maintenance is also important for avoiding equipment failure. However, even stringent repair and upkeep can’t prevent damage or failure from seasonal elements or poorly constructed roads.
- Distracted driving: This is one of the leading causes of all vehicle accidents on the road. Truck driving involves long hours of straight driving, which could easily lead to boredom. If drivers use mobile devices while behind the wheel, this behavior can prevent them from paying full attention to the road. Texting, in particular, has become a huge problem for drivers in general. Texting while driving increases the risk of accident, particularly when it is combined with fatigue or when the driver is on unfamiliar roads.
- Unsafe driving practices: Generally, truck drivers are required to go a slower speed than passenger cars. This speed limit is designed with the truck’s bulk and lack of maneuverability in mind. Faster vehicles are rarely under full control of the driver. Not only does the truck weigh almost 20 times more than every other vehicle on the road, but it is also bulkier and less maneuverable in a situation which may require quick movement. Truck drivers also face more consequences when they do things like tailgate smaller cars, fail to check blind spots, frequently change lanes, and fail to use turn signals.
- Overloading: Trucks are only allowed to hit a certain weight before they become overloaded. Overloaded trucks can often put too much pressure on the vehicle’s wheels and on the road. An 18-wheeler can also jackknife if it is carrying too much weight. Likewise, if the cargo is improperly secured, it could fall off the truck and lead to the injury or death of other drivers on the road.
Call our Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, make sure you have excellent representation. Our skilled Oklahoma truck accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience to offer. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Martin, Jean & Jackson have been helping injured Oklahomans during their most difficult times. In the process, we have helped them recover more than $500 million to meet the broad range of needs created by their injuries and damages.
To schedule a free consultation, contact us today. We look forward to working with you.