According to the most recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) truck and bus accident report, approximately 5,096 large trucks and busses were involved in fatal crashes in a single year. Many traffic safety experts believe that trucking companies can do more to prevent truck accidents, injuries, medical bills, and repairs. Below are some practical ways fleet owners, truck drivers, and managers can improve trucking safety.
Watch Out for Inclement Weather
Drivers often find navigating near and around enormous commercial trucks to be stressful. Trucks are more challenging to slow and control because they carry so much power, which can be dangerous in hazardous weather conditions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that weather is a factor in nearly 25 percent of motor vehicle accidents annually. Weather-related crashes occur in rain, snow, sleet, fog, slick pavement, and during strong crosswinds.
Avoid Equipment Malfunctions
Like other types of vehicles, commercial trucks must be serviced regularly to ensure all of the parts and systems are working safely and efficiently. When truck manufacturers, operators, or drivers cut corners with maintenance and repairs, trucks break down or cause accidents.
Do Not Drive Recklessly
The following unsafe driving behaviors lead to devastating truck accidents and injuries:
- Aggressive Driving: Aggressive driving is when a motorist disregards the safety of others.
- Drunk Driving: Alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription and over-the-counter medications potentially interfere with the user’s ability to drive safely.
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is looking away from the road or taking one’s hands off the wheel to perform another task unrelated to driving.
- Drowsy Driving: Fatigue affects the body much like alcohol does. It slows reaction time and impairs decision-making and coordination. When a driver is sleep-deprived and they fall asleep behind the wheel, the results can be catastrophic. Long shifts and monotonous routes make fatigue a real problem among truck drivers.
Be Mindful of Other Drivers
It takes more time and distance to bring an 18-wheeler truck to a stop than a small passenger car. Other drivers need to give truckers sufficient space to stop and turn. However, other drivers are not always as cautious as they should be when passing in front of large trucks.
Truck cargo must be properly secured and adhere to weight guidelines to ensure it is safe. Loaders may exceed cargo weight capacity in an effort to deliver more goods in a single trip. Workers may fail to properly load or secure cargo because they are distracted or improperly trained. No matter the reason, unsecured cargo is dangerous.
Look for Road Construction
Road construction is another cause of serious truck accidents. Truckers may not see equipment ahead or do not have space or time to move out of the way to avoid them. To make road construction more dangerous, road repairs are often completed at night, making detours harder to see.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FMCSA requires trucking operators to follow certain drug testing guidelines for commercial truck drivers. Employers are encouraged to expand their drug and alcohol awareness services and testing to keep impaired drivers off the road.
Truck drivers and fleet owners have a variety of innovative systems available to help avoid crashes. This innovative technology utilizes mirrors, cameras, and radar to apply the brakes or alert a driver if a collision is imminent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates collision mitigation technology can potentially reduce 80 percent of fatalities. Even if these systems are not mandatory, operators are encouraged to install it in every commercial truck.
A minor equipment failure on a commercial truck can lead to a devastating accident. Trucks should be routinely maintained to keep all the parts and systems running smoothly. It is always a good idea for trucking companies and individual drivers to keep records to ensure maintenance appointments are kept.
Fair Pay Structure
Drivers who are compensated for the number of miles they cover instead of the number of hours they work have an incentive to keep going. Companies should pay them pay a fair and reasonable wage without penalizing drivers for taking required breaks and pulling over when feeling fatigued.
Inspections Before Every Trip
Companies should verify drivers are completing pre-trip inspections every workday. In fact, federal law requires a daily vehicle inspection report every day for each truck. If maintenance appointments are up to date, the inspection should not take longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Any issues that arise should be repaired before departing.
During the inspection, drivers check the following:
- Coupling device
- Emergency equipment
- Lights and reflectors
- Parking brake
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Windshield wipers
Some hazards are out of a truck driver’s control, such as weather. However, trucking companies have a responsibility in making sure their employees are equipped and ready to deal with unpredictable hazards. A professional, skilled truck driver knows how to drive in hazardous weather conditions and recognizes the signs of fatigue. Truck drivers represent their employer, and it is an employer’s job to make sure they are safe.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
While the above tips are valuable, truck accidents can still happen. Anyone involved in a truck accident should call 9-1-1, remain at the scene, and wait for medical assistance. After getting medical care and filing a police report, the next step is to contact a truck accident lawyer. Trucking companies are powerful businesses, and they have a vested interest in avoiding costly payouts for truck accident claims.
Medical expenses, car repairs, and other bills add up quickly after an accident. A personal injury claim can help a victim recover these costs and receive compensation for mental and physical pain and suffering.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Truck Accident Case?
A skilled lawyer protects a truck accident victim’s rights and helps them pursue the financial compensation they deserve. Big trucking fleets are more likely to dismiss innocent accident victims if they do not have competent legal representation.
When considering filing a claim against a truck driver, truck owner, or truck manufacturer, a victim should make sure to keep all documentation related to their case. Accident scene photos, auto repair bills, medical records, and the police report all show the facts of the case. If there are suspicions the truck driver was drunk, distracted, or reckless in any way, this should be mentioned to the police officer and a lawyer as well.
Truck manufacturers must assemble safe vehicles with technology and systems to avoid crashes. Trucking companies need to make safety a top priority and put systems in place to ensure vehicles and drivers are safe.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Victims Fight Against Negligent Trucking Companies
Going up against a trucking company after an accident can be difficult on your own. If you were injured by a negligent truck driver, a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you with your case. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout 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.