Top Causes of Large Truck Accidents
Drivers in passenger vehicles and motorcycles are no match for a large semi-tractor trailer truck that weighs as much as 30 times more, is taller and have enough ground clearance to allow a small vehicle to run underneath them.
So it’s no wonder that most of the deaths resulting from a large truck accident are people who are in passenger vehicles, not the truck drivers or their occupants.
Fatal Crashes Result as Large Trucks Need More Distance to Stop
There are many factors that lead to truck accidents, but one of the top causes is these heavy, big rig trucks requires longer distances to stop, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. When traffic comes to a sudden stop ahead of a large truck it’s possible a smaller car could be rear-ended by the big rig or the truck could jackknife across the freeway where other cars could collide with it. On slippery, wet roads, there is a heightened danger of jackknifing.
Fatal Accidents Due to Truck Driver Fatigue
Another major factor leading to truck accidents is driver fatigue. Under federal laws, drivers are permitted to work up to 11 hours behind the wheel without taking a break. These Hours-of-Service must be recorded in a log book by the driver and available to police for inspection. Over the course of a seven-day period, the big rig truck driver may drive no more than 77 hours. These rules are often broken by truck drivers who have tight schedules and demands for quick delivery by their customers.
Distracted Driving Contributes to Fatal Truck Accidents
Distracted driving is a third factor that contributes to large truck accidents, just as it does for other motorists. Some commercial trucking companies have installed cameras inside the cabs of their fleet of trucks to keep an eye on drivers, but it doesn’t always prevent them from using cell phones behind the wheel. In fact, one case in November 2013, a trucker was using his cell phone to look at photos on Facebook when he plowed into three police cars and two fires trucks who were assisting other motorists involved in an accident on the Interstate 8 in Arizona. One of the public safety officers Tim Huffman was killed in the crash. The dashboard camera was reviewed following the fatal crash and the trucker had used his wallet to block himself from view. His cell phone records, however, proved he was on the phone at the time of the crash.
Another factor that contributes to truck accidents in alcohol consumption. In 2013, alcohol-related crashes where at least one person died declined by 2.5 percent over the previous year for all types of motorists except large trucks. Drivers of large trucks were the only group of motorists showing an increase over 2012. There were 92 deaths resulting from truck drivers under the influence of alcohol in 2014, up 18 percent compared to 78 the year before, according to a report compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
Keep in mind that overall truck accidents account for the smallest number of alcohol-related deaths among all categories with 92 deaths compared to 253 for light trucks such as vans, 1,414 for utility trucks, 1,902 for pickup trucks, 1,296 for motorcyclists and 4,062 for passenger cars. Overall there were a total of 10,076 people killed in DUI crashes across the country among all types of traffic accidents in 2013. For accidents involving all factors, the national death rate was down 2.5 percent to 32,719 deaths in 2013 compared to 2012.
Newport Beach-based Johnson Attorneys Group has the knowledge and expertise to handle all types of trucking accidents in California. Victims of crashes involving trucks often suffer serious catastrophic injuries requiring immediate and long term medical care. These types of crashes may also result in a disability, or worse, a wrongful death. Take steps to secure your legal rights by calling us today for a free case evaluation at 800-235-6801.