According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, around 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year in the United States. 5,000 of these accidents result in fatalities. One out of every eight traffic fatality involves a trucking collision.
Many factors can cause a dangerous truck accident. Here is a list of the most common:
- Driver Error: Truck accidents often take place due to poor decisions by the truck driver. Some of these include: driving under the influence, insufficient training, speeding to meet unrealistic deadlines, not securing heavy loads properly, driving a truck that is in need of repairs, driver fatigue, and aggressive driving practices.
- Dangerous Actions of Passenger Vehicle: Although rare, some truck accidents are caused by a small passenger vehicle. These can start with unsafe practices such as: trying to get ahead of a truck and not managing to accelerate fast enough, driving between commercial trucks without keeping sufficient distance from the back and front of the truck, changing lanes suddenly and coming in front of a speeding truck, entering traffic incorrectly and causing truck drivers to brake or turn abruptly.
- Unavoidable and Unforeseen Circumstances: Occasionally circumstances are beyond a truck driver’s control such as: oil spills during rain make roads more slippery, swerving or turning suddenly to avoid colliding with a broken down car or a pedestrian, sudden mechanical or brake failure causing a driver to lose control.
Truck drivers work long hours, face strenuous deadlines, and must abide by strict schedules. This often adds up to driver fatigue. Because driver fatigue is one of the highest causes of truck accidents in the United States, in 1939 an “hours of service” rule under the Federal law began to limit the number of hours that any truck, driven by a single truck driver, can continuously be on the road. Since altered, these rules now provide that a truck driver can drive for a maximum of 11 continuous hours, in a 14 hour work day, after which truck drivers are required to take a 10 hour mandatory rest period before getting behind the wheel again. In any eight day period, a truck can be driven between 70-88 hours. Even though truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with these laws, many do not because they have tight schedules or desire to make more money.
That isn’t the only federal regulation that governs the trucking industry. There are also many laws regarding the driver’s actions and the upkeep of the vehicles. Often trucking accidents occur because of improper maintenance of the vehicles. In those situations, the federal rules and regulations help hold these drivers and companies accountable. Such rules include preventive maintenance and inspection of the trucks, checking and understanding brake performance, specific documentation and conduct, keeping a driver’s log book, conducting routine alcohol and drug testing, proper transportation of HAZMAT goods, etc. These laws are in place to regulate the industry and decrease the number of catastrophic trucking accidents on the road.
Trucking accidents occur daily and severely harm those involved. An experienced attorney can assist in such times of need. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help if you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident. Give us a call today at (727)451-6900.