Truck accidents can have catastrophic consequences. The most serious accidents can result in multiple fatalities. The common causes of truck accidents are outlined below.
If you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident, contact the Silver Spring truck accident lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan. We can discuss the factors that may have contributed to your accident and whether you may be able to pursue compensation against a negligent truck driver, trucking company or other party.
Truck Driver Error
Commercial truck drivers are required by federal law to comply with a number of key regulations that are designed to protect the public. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recognizes the potential dangers that a commercial truck driver can pose. Some of the common causes of accidents attributed to truck drivers include:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiled data from its Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) to determine the causes of serious commercial truck accidents. When driver error was named as the primary cause of an accident, 12 percent of the accidents were due to driver impairment, including the driver suffering a heart attack or seizure, falling asleep or being physically impaired for another reason.
Commercial truck companies are often paid by the load, so truck drivers have an incentive to travel as far as possible before taking a break. However, federal hours of services regulations prohibit truck drivers from working more than 11 hours in a day when carrying cargo. They must also take ten hours between shifts.
This is to help prevent fatigue and to ensure that drivers have enough time to get adequate rest. Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as impaired driving, as sleepiness can limit a person’s ability to react to hazards.
Because truck drivers are operating a large vehicle that could cause serious harm to others on the road, truck drivers are held to higher standards than other motorists. While non-commercial drivers must not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.08, commercial motor vehicle operators with a BAC of 0.04 or greater are considered under the influence of alcohol and can face strict penalties.
Truck drivers must often spend hours on the roadway. The job can get boring and monotonous, leading to truck drivers turning to their phones and other devices for entertainment. According to the LTCCS, 28 percent of accidents were due to distractions inside or outside the vehicle or driver inattention.
Truck drivers may speed to get to their destinations more quickly. Because commercial truck vehicles weigh 20 times more than passenger vehicles, they take substantially longer to stop once the brakes are applied. This can result in more serious injuries due to the higher speeds at the point of impact.
The LTCCS found that 38 percent of driver-error accidents were due to unsafe driving practices such as:
- Driving too fast for weather conditions
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Road rage
- Changing lanes too frequently
- Failing to use turn signals
Trucking Company Negligence
Sometimes accidents are caused by mistakes that the trucking company makes, such as:
Failing to Properly Train Truck Drivers
Driving a commercial truck is much more complicated than driving a traditional passenger vehicle, which is why all truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license. If a driver is inexperienced in operating a large commercial vehicle, he or she is at a greater risk for being involved in a collision.
Failing to Maintain Vehicles
Trucking companies are responsible for properly maintaining their vehicles. Maintenance checks should be documented and conducted regularly, and trucking companies could potentially be held liable if accidents result due to equipment failure, such as faulty brakes or blown tires.
Failing to Inspect Vehicles
Trucking companies must follow careful inspection procedures before allowing one of their vehicles to depart their site. Truck drivers and others must carefully perform this inspection before hauling a load or departing after a stop.
Improperly Loading the Commercial Vehicle
Tractor trailers must be loaded properly to avoid potential accidents. An improperly loaded truck can cause the vehicle to tip or for the cargo to unload, putting others on the road in serious danger.
Commercial truck accidents are also commonly caused by other factors, such as:
- Poorly constructed roads
- Inclement weather conditions
- Shifts in traffic patterns
- Defective automotive parts
Contact a Commercial Truck Accident Attorney with Experience
Commercial truck drivers and companies are held to a higher standard due to the potential danger that these large, powerful trucks can cause. Serious injuries and death can occur when they act in a negligent manner that causes an accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Goldberg Finnegan for assistance. We can investigate the cause of your accident and determine the options available in your situation. We hold negligent truck drivers and companies accountable for their actions by pursuing maximum compensation for our clients.