Causes of Truck Accidents
The average commercial tractor trailer weighs upwards of 40 tons. To put that in perspective, the average passenger car weighs about 2.5 tons. These enormous trucks carry incredible weight and force that require a greater stopping distance, making them more dangerous in a crash.
Truck accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Defective or unsafe parts and equipment cause thousands of accidents every year. Yet, others are the result of human error, either by the truck driver or other drivers and pedestrians they encounter. Truck drivers must be even more alert on the road than car drivers. At the same time, car drivers should be aware of what is going on around them if they see trucks in their path.
Use the following information to avoid truck accidents and remain alert on the road. If you are hurt in an accident, contact our truck accident lawyers in Virginia Beach today. We will carefully investigate your accident, ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable, and seek adequate compensation for your injuries.
Truck drivers are often in a hurry to get where they are going. As a result, they may use aggressive driving tactics to move through traffic quickly. Drivers should not engage in aggressive driving behaviors with a massive truck. Truck drivers can be angered by other drivers, and they should take care to redirect their anger. Truck drivers must learn to breathe, relax, and keep their eyes on the road. Anger can lead to a lack of attention on the road, and truck drivers could easily drive too fast, lose control of their vehicle, or miss a road sign.
Truck drivers should also consider how terrifying road rage can be for someone in a car. At times, car drivers accidentally cut off large trucks, get too close, or honk their horns because they are in a hurry. Truck drivers should not take offense to these driving tactics. Allow small cars to pass so that everyone gets home safely. Even blowing your horn at a small car could startle another driver and cause an accident. On the contrary, car drivers should not aggressively drive around large trucks. Cutting off large trucks makes it harder for them to stop, and bad road conditions escalate the problem. If you are cutting off a truck driver on a hill, they might need to ride their brakes, which leads to overheating and losing the ability to stop.
Drivers who speed, tailgate, brake-check, or make sudden turns or lane changes significantly increase the risk of a serious wreck. Because trucks require a greater stopping distance, it is more difficult for them to avoid an impending crash. Truck drivers are expected to check their brakes every day before getting on the road, and a driver should inspect the rest of their vehicle for any issues.
Drivers who miss weight stops or drive on restricted roads also put other drivers in danger. Drivers might forget to check their cargo, ignore cargo that is shifting inside the trailer, or drive recklessly. Failing to obey simple regulations causes problems for everyone on the road.
Driver negligence could also be tied to how drivers are managed. Truck drivers may be in a hurry to complete their routes, or they might simply want to go home to their families. When we investigate truck accidents, we determine who is truly at-fault. Drivers who have been pushed too hard by their employers are not solely to blame for your accident.
Long shifts combined with monotonous routes and overnight driving leave many truck drivers dangerously fatigued. Drowsy drivers have difficulty with concentration, decision making, and reaction time. It only takes a few seconds for a sleepy or distracted driver to lose control and cause a tragic wreck. Drowsy drivers are also pushed to the limit by trucking companies that expect deliveries to be made at specific times.
Drowsy drivers are sometimes forced to work because their employers expect them to complete their routes as quickly as possible. The trucking company is in violation of federal regulations governing how much truck drivers are allowed to drive before resting.
If truck drivers take it upon themselves to complete routes quickly, they should be held accountable for violating federal regulations. Some drivers simply push themselves so hard that they may even fall asleep at the wheel. When the driver does not have control over the truck, a fatal crash could occur as the driver veers off the road or swerves into oncoming traffic. If a large truck on the road is swerving, slow down, get out of the way, and call the local authorities.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Enormous commercial trucks are vulnerable to hazardous road conditions. Rain, snow, and fog impact visibility and traction. Uneven pavement, potholes, and construction can cause drivers to lose control of their rigs. Out-of-control trucks are more likely to tip over, jackknife, and/or collide with other vehicles. Drivers must make the smart decision and pull over if the conditions are not right for driving.
Trucking companies may not allow this because they expect routes to be completed quickly. If a truck driver causes an accident in hazardous conditions, we will determine whether the driver is to blame for negligence or if their employer forced them to make poor decisions.
Additionally, cars on the road should be more careful around large trucks when the road conditions are not favorable. As mentioned, cutting off a truck in the rain is even more dangerous than it would be otherwise. Car drivers should slow down, use their hazard lights, and make way for large truck drivers.
We depend on commercial truckers to deliver the goods that enrich our lives. Truck owners and operators must adhere to strict loading procedures and standards to keep that cargo from shifting and causing the trailer to turn over. Proper weight distribution is essential for keeping large trucks balanced and stable, and drivers can easily identify an imbalanced truck when they are driving.
Again, truck drivers are expected to check their loads for any issues. If a truck driver willingly goes on the road with an imbalanced load, they could cause a catastrophic accident. If their employer forced them to drive without first securing the load, they could be held liable for the accident. Additionally, if we find that the loading crew did not load the cargo properly, we will hold that company liable for the accident. Try to avoid trucks that seem imbalanced. Do not try to alert a truck driver that something is wrong with their vehicle. If you are afraid the truck might turn over, call 911 to be connected with local authorities.
Poor Truck Maintenance
According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study on the leading causes of large truck wrecks, more than one-quarter of tractor trailers were found to have brake problems. Because vehicles this large pose an enormous risk in a crash, it is essential they be well-maintained and in good working order. Drivers must check their brakes every day. Trucking companies must maintain their trucks properly, and trucks that are no longer fit for the road should be decommissioned as soon as possible. The trucking company may have also used defective parts when maintaining their trucks.
Trucking companies often try to cut corners when maintaining their vehicles to save money. While this is a dangerous proposition for everyone on the road, trucking companies will continue to save money where they see fit. This is why you must contact one of our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers after a crash. We will review the service records for the truck to ensure that the owner of the truck maintained it properly.
There are nearly half a million trucking companies operating in the United States today. These companies are responsible for properly maintaining their trucks, training drivers, and enforcing the trucking regulations and standards that keep everyone safe. Any lapse in these areas increases the risk of a serious truck accident. Companies often hire drivers as quickly as possible, put them on the road, and hope for the best.
Drivers should be aware of changes in industry standards, changes made when new trucks are manufactured, and anything that they should do to manage new trailers. Additionally, truck drivers should be retrained at least once a year by their employers. Untrained drivers make mistakes, and a lack of continuing education allows older drivers to make the same mistakes they made when they first started. Trucking companies should be held accountable for ensuring every driver in the fleet is an expert.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
No one wants to assume that a truck driver was drinking or abusing drugs while driving, but it does happen. We will make sure that the driver’s blood alcohol content at the time of the accident is used as evidence if they were found to be intoxicated. Truck drivers might self-medicate while on the job, but that is no excuse for putting other drivers and families in harm’s way.
In 2017, 3.6 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents tested for a blood alcohol level of .01 or higher, and 2.5 percent tested for a blood alcohol level over 0.08. This may seem insignificant, but we are not only concerned with illegal blood alcohol levels. If the driver involved in your accident had just one drink before they caused your accident, they could be held accountable. We take the operation of large trucks seriously, and truck drivers, owners, and fleet management companies should do the same.
Safety Tips for Motorists
While we assert that trucking companies and truck drivers may be at-fault for a range of accidents and injuries, we also recognize that traditional motorists should use a few safety tips when driving near large trucks.
Avoid large truck accidents by:
- Driving the speed limit
- Allowing large trucks to pass
- Staying out of the driver’s blind spots
- Refraining from tailgating large trucks
- Refraining from cutting off large trucks
- Slowing down in inclement weather
- Reporting any drivers that appear to be drowsy, asleep, or possibly intoxicated
These tips are especially important for young or inexperienced drivers who may not know what to do when they encounter large trucks on the highway or surface streets.
Our Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Help Injured Victims Claim the Compensation They Deserve
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we ensure nothing has been overlooked in the process to determine what went wrong and who is at-fault for your accident. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.