A tremendous amount of freight is moved daily throughout the country. It is important to understand the special risks involved with freight-carrying trucks. Some of these risks contrbute to the common causes of truck accidents. The greatest danger is their massive size and weight. Compared to the average weight of a passenger vehicle, which is around 4,000 pounds, it is easy to see how catastrophic an accident can be.
It is important for all drivers to understand the time it takes for a truck to come to a complete stop. Their large size creates blind spots around the truck that are much bigger than those around a car. Additionally, a variety of conditions and situations cause or contribute to a truck accident, such as mechanical failures and poor weather and road conditions. However, most truck accidents can be traced, at least in part, to human error. Knowing these things will enable a car driver to have a much better sense of how to avoid accidents.
How can Drivers Avoid Truck Accidents?
Drivers should avoid the following actions to reduce the risk of being in an accident:
- Driving close behind or right next to a large truck, especially in their blind spots
- Misjudging driving speeds and stopping distances of large trucks by changing lanes too close in front of a truck, merging too slowly into a lane where a truck is approaching, or turning left at an intersection in front of an approaching truck
- Driving in between two large trucks
- Maneuvering to the right of a truck making a right turn
- Failing to move a disabled vehicle out of travel lanes, off the highway, and onto a safe shoulder
What are the Legal Requirements for Commercial Truck Drivers?
Because of the inherent dangers associated with driving a large truck, a series of federal requirements apply to driving commercial vehicles. Federal laws and regulations include:
- Defining maximum hours-of-service and mandatory break periods to reduce the risk of driver fatigue for most commercial motor vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds
- Requiring medical certification for certain physical fitness requirements
- Implying consent to submit to alcohol testing
There are also requirements for truck drivers to meet knowledge and skill testing before getting behind the wheel. Yet, these are generic and cannot address the specific training and experience needed before a driver can safely drive a large truck.
What are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents can be caused by lack of qualifications and/or skill. Inadequate training regarding driving technique, safety concerns, and defensive driving can all render truck drivers more likely to be in an accident. New drivers may not have the skill to maneuver a large truck in icy conditions or driving down steep roads.
Truck driver fatigue is also a significant factor in causing truck accidents, as well as distracted driving behaviors. Even minute distractions can have deadly consequences. In addition, due to the time pressure they are under, many truck drivers will multi-task while driving, such as eating, talking on cellphones, or using GPS systems and CB radios.
A less obvious cause of truck accidents can be attributed to undiagnosed health conditions of truck drivers. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that over 86 percent of truck drivers are overweight. Working conditions that leave little time for exercise and eating healthy meals contributes to the risks of obesity. This condition is often associated with other health problems, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and causes difficulty with concentration and can even cause a person to fall asleep while driving.
Drug and alcohol use can also impair judgement and reaction time for truck drivers. A recent study found that 30 percent of truck drivers admitted to taking amphetamines on the job, which are commonly used to stay awake. However, drug intake is usually accompanied by unsafe driving behaviors. After the amphetamines wear off, drivers can become quickly fatigued.
What are Other Causes of Truck Accidents?
As for all vehicles, trucks experience wear and tear through use. Trucks and other vehicles must be inspected periodically. Failure to properly maintain a truck can cause an accident. For example, tires may have excessive wear, or the air pressure may not be properly maintained. Worn or underinflated tires can cause hydroplaning on a wet road, increased stopping times and/or distance, or a blowout. All of these situations involve loss of control of the vehicle. Additionally, failing to maintain and replace worn brakes will result in loss of control over the vehicle and can lead to catastrophic results. Even worn windshield wipers can cause accidents as they will inhibit a clear view of road conditions.
Truck accidents can also occur when cargo is improperly distributed in the vehicle and/or tied down. With the high center of gravity of commercial trucks, these problems have been known to cause a truck to overturn. Improper loading can also interfere with safe handling.
What Types of Injuries can I Suffer in a Truck Accident?
Impact with a fast-moving truck is likely to cause catastrophic injuries to all involved. Injuries can include back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, contusions, and burns. In addition, certain conditions, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, such as difficulty concentrating, nausea and vomiting, moodiness, and extreme sensitivity to bright light. After a truck accident, it is vital to seek medical attention, as well as legal guidance from a truck accident lawyer. The negative impacts of a truck accident can involve property damage, loss of work, and physical injury. Experiencing a truck accident can cause significant consequences that can worsen through inaction.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Victims Injured in All Types of Truck Accidents
If you were injured in a truck accident, the experienced Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help. We will review your case and offer the next best steps. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys. Call 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online for a consultation today.