Commercial trucks, such as 18-wheelers, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They’re massive vehicles that require training and experience to operate. Although the truck driver is responsible for driving safely to keep others out of danger, the driver isn’t always responsible for 18-wheeler accidents. Other parties can be at fault for truck accidents.
Understanding why truck accidents occur might help you prevent one in the future. However, if you sustain injuries in a collision with an 18-wheeler in a crash that wasn’t your fault, taking immediate action to hold the negligent driver liable and recover compensation is crucial.
Below are the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents.
Despite federal regulations limiting the number of hours truckers can spend on the road, many truck drivers work while they’re exhausted. When fatigue sets in, drivers can’t focus, make good decisions, or react appropriately to dangerous situations. Driving hundreds of miles or up to eleven hours in a single shift can impair a truck driver’s faculties.
Everyone is aware of the dangers of texting while driving. However, most people don’t realize other distractions are as dangerous. Eating, looking at a GPS, and talking to passengers directs a driver’s hands, eyes, or attention to another task.
Effective multi-tasking is impossible at the wheel of a vehicle, including an 18-wheeler. A distracted trucker isn’t likely to notice stopped traffic or a hazard in the road until it’s too late.
Driving Under the Influence
The Commonwealth of Virginia considers a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher to be “under the influence.” However, the standard is much higher for truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes a BAC of 0.04 percent or more as being under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol and drugs, even prescription and over-the-counter medications, interfere with a person’s driving abilities. These substances cause a slower reaction time, poor judgment, and other dangerous symptoms that increase the risk of an accident.
Exceeding the speed limit is against the law. It’s also careless behavior. An 18-wheeler traveling over the speed limit produces violent forces when it crashes into another vehicle. The occupants of smaller vehicles can sustain debilitating or life-threatening injuries in such a crash. Many high-speed truck accidents are fatal.
Speeding also prevents truckers from stopping in time to avoid a crash. The required stopping distance for a large truck traveling 65 miles per hour is 525 feet. That often isn’t enough space for a truck driver to brake and bring the 18-wheeler to a complete stop before encountering a red light, stop sign, or stopped car that they didn’t see until the last moment.
Improperly Loaded Cargo
Cargo must meet size, weight, and securement requirements under federal law. Cargo loaded beyond the size or weight limits place extra pressure on the tires, increasing the risk of a tire blowout.
Items with faulty tiedowns and other securement systems can shift during transport, throwing the entire vehicle’s weight off balance. The trucker might lose control of the 18-wheeler and crash.
Trucking Company Negligence
Motor carriers must also follow federal and Commonwealth laws to prevent truck accidents. An 18-wheeler collision might not be the truck driver’s fault. Their employer can be liable for misconduct, such as:
- Negligent hiring – Conducting thorough background checks on prospective truck drivers is crucial. Motor carriers must confirm applicants’ qualifications, licensing, employment history, and other information. However, some trucking companies skip background checks during staffing shortages and retention issues. They might practice indiscriminate hiring to get people out on the road.
- Inadequate training – Truck drivers must complete a training program before operating a commercial motor vehicle. They need to know how to navigate an 18-wheeler around other vehicles and what to do in an emergency. Motor carriers might hire employees without requiring them to undergo training. A trucker without the necessary training endangers the safety and lives of everyone on the road.
- Poor maintenance – Trucking companies must perform routine maintenance on every 18-wheeler in their fleet and repair damage and defects promptly. Inadequate maintenance can cause the truck to malfunction, leading to a collision.
Injured in an 18-Wheeler Accident? Contact Us Now
If you were injured in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to call Anchor Legal Group, PLLC at (757) 529-0000 today. A Virginia Beach 18-wheeler Accident Lawyer can discuss your case with you during a confidential consultation and advise you of the legal options.
You can count on us to aggressively pursue the compensation you are entitled to and work to hold the negligent party liable for your injury. We will fight by your side until the end.