An average passenger vehicle weighs in at roughly 4,000 pounds as against a big commercial truck that can weigh over 30,000 pounds. The weight and size of commercial trucks, along with the high speeds on the highways and other differences in terms of stopping distance, ride height, and driver field of vision, translates into terrifying consequences for those involved in a commercial trucking accident.
More than 15 million commercial trucks help ship 70 percent of goods in the United States each year. A large number of trucks on our roadways also contribute to a large number of fateful collisions with other motor vehicles, which often result in severe injuries or fatalities. As per the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) data, in an alarming trend, there was an increase of 45 percent in the number of commercial truck accidents that proved fatal, between 2009 and 2018.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Commercial trucking is a high-pressure job that involves a lot of stress, especially for truck drivers. Time is money in commercial trucking, with drivers facing tremendous pressure to stick to often impractical deadlines. Commercial truckers often end up driving long distances to deliver goods within a tight time frame, with little rest and few breaks.
The driving fatigue and sleep deprivation result in impaired judgment, slow reactions, and occasionally, a lethargic driver dozing off at the wheel. This loss of concentration and coordination can have fatal consequences for truckers as well as other road users.
Federal laws and regulations limit the number of hours a commercial trucker can spend behind the wheel in one shift. They also stipulate the required sleep as well as the rest breaks a driver must take. However, trucking companies often ignore or violate the regulations, placing other vehicles and road users at risk.
Any activity that has the potential to divert the attention of a driver away from their main task of driving, can be termed as distracted driving. Distracted driving is as much a problem on local roads as on the highways. Even a split-second distraction that takes the driver’s eyes or mental focus off the road, can spell disaster.
Driving a truck for long distances day in and day out can be a monotonous job, making a commercial trucker vulnerable to distractions like texting on the cell phone or trying to find a playlist to beat the boredom. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures, distracted driving caused 3142 deaths on our country’s roadways in 2019.
A commercial truck driver at the helm of a 25-ton behemoth while under the influence can only end in disaster for everyone on the road. Although we might think that commercial truckers do not have a high rate of alcohol or drug use, a 2019 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance check resulted in the termination of 3 percent of truckers because of alcohol or drugs violations.
In an effort to meet impractical deadlines, some truckers use amphetamines and other stimulants to keep themselves awake while driving. A study reported 20 percent of truck drivers admitting to using marijuana while 30 percent said they were on amphetamines, to keep themselves awake unnaturally.
Speeding and Reckless Driving
In the commercial trucking business, undue pressures of deadlines sometimes force truckers to drive faster than what is suitable for a vehicle of such size, or the road conditions. Speeding up behind smaller vehicles, changing lanes suddenly, or braking hard abruptly, can all lead to potentially dangerous situations on a highway.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
For a driver to be able to drive a commercial truck, there are regulations in place regarding the required hours of training. However, sometimes truck drivers manage to get behind the wheel of big trailers without fulfilling the stipulated requirements. Federal law requires the drivers to perform routine truck maintenance, failing which, they can be held responsible for any accident and resulting damages.
Federal regulations also require the trucking company to inspect each of their trucks and maintain them to be sufficiently roadworthy. But often, the trucking companies cut corners in terms of time and costs, when it comes to maintaining their commercial truck fleet adequately.
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck that has defective parts or is poorly maintained, you can hold multiple parties liable, including the truck manufacturer, part manufacturer, truck operator, maintenance mechanic, or truck driver.
Adverse Road and Weather Conditions
Road and weather conditions like rain, ice, snow, road construction, insufficient signage, and potholes may also contribute to a trucking accident. It is difficult to escape bad weather conditions in long-distance trucking. The trucking company needs to ensure that a commercial truck driver is sufficiently trained to handle all types of poor weather and road conditions so that they do not put themselves and other motorists at risk.
A Competent Truck Accident Attorney in Virginia to Protect Your Rights
Truck accidents are frequent and ubiquitous. Trucking companies and their insurers have teams of investigators and attorneys on their payroll to avoid any liability. If you or someone you know has been injured in a commercial truck accident, you need not face them alone.
Reach out for assistance and let the experienced Virginia truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, use their skills and knowledge to fight for the maximum possible compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.