The highways of our modern world are bustling arteries of commerce, facilitating the movement of goods and services across vast distances. At the heart of this transportation network, commercial trucks play a pivotal role, delivering goods to every corner of the globe.
However, the sheer size and weight of these behemoths on wheels make them potential hazards, especially when accidents occur. Trucking accidents can happen for various reasons, including human error, mechanical issues with the vehicle, or weather conditions.
If the accident results from the truck driver’s negligence, you can take the legal approach for compensation. In this article, we will understand the dynamics of truck accidents and what steps you can take after one.
The Anatomy of Trucking Accidents
A trucking accident is a serious problem in the United States. The problem is that regardless of how many precautions are taken, mistakes are bound to happen sometimes. Data shows that in 2021, 523,796 large truck accidents occurred across the US. Moreover, there were 4,444 fatalities in 2020.
These statistics are shocking and should indicate that something must be done to improve road safety. This is extremely important because trucks are large. Therefore, truck drivers usually don’t get any major injuries, even if the accident was their fault.
Consider the example of a crash between a Monte Carlo car and a box truck in St. Louis. The car driver died on the spot, whereas the box truck driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The accident here was caused by the driver driving at high speed. However, the point here is that truck drivers are not easily injured.
Here’s another example where multiple vehicles were involved in the accident in St. Louis. The collision happened between a Dodge Charger, a Ford Focus, and a small U-Haul truck. In the accident, the Ford Focus driver was dead on the spot, but the Dodge Charger and U-Haul truck drivers were only injured.
This shows that even if truck drivers are at fault, they are less likely to be injured during an accident. Thus, taking a legal approach against the truck driver is only justified. If you have been a part of such an accident, you can hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit to get the right compensation.
When choosing an attorney, it is advised to go local. A local lawyer will know all the local rules and regulations. Additionally, it will be easier for you to visit the attorney often to discuss your case. So, suppose your accident occurred in St. Louis. In that case, you should hire a St. Louis truck accident lawyer.
Human Factors in Trucking Accidents
Human factors are the biggest cause of trucking accidents. Driver fatigue and distraction are two common human factors that lead to trucking accidents. Drivers can easily become fatigued when driving long distances, especially if it’s been a long day or week.
Almost 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial drivers. In fact, 43% of truck drivers from a study involving 900 drivers reported obstructive sleep apnea. It leads to the narrowing of the throat during sleep. So, drivers were not able to sleep properly at night. This led to tiredness in the daytime, which may cause drowsiness behind the wheel.
They may also become distracted by their phones or other devices, which can cause them to lose focus on the road. For instance, one three-vehicle crash occurred in Rochester Hills, killing a 33-year-old woman. The car collided with a pickup truck. Distracted driving has been ascertained as one of the causes.
The nature of truck driving also makes it difficult for drivers to avoid collisions. They often have limited visibility, thanks to blind spots caused by trailers or cargo. Moreover, trucks have less maneuverability since they take up more space than cars do on roads.
Mechanical and Technical Aspects
Trucking accidents can also stem from mechanical and technical aspects. Trucks are heavy and have many blind spots, which makes them difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. Trucks can also have a higher rate of speed because they’re so much heavier and, therefore, take more time to slow down.
Here are key mechanical and technical factors related to truck accidents:
- Vehicle size and weight: Trucks, especially tractor-trailers or semi-trucks, are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. The sheer size and weight disparity can result in catastrophic damage during collisions.
- Braking systems: Commercial trucks have air brake systems, which operate differently from the hydraulic brake systems in most passenger vehicles. Issues with braking systems, such as brake failure or insufficient braking power, can lead to accidents.
- Maintenance and inspections: Regular maintenance and inspections are crucial for trucks. Mechanical failures, such as brake malfunctions, tire blowouts, or steering system problems, can result from inadequate maintenance.
- Electronic Control Modules (ECM): Many trucks have ECMs that record vehicle performance data. Analyzing ECM data can provide insights into factors such as speed, braking patterns, and engine performance leading up to an accident.
- Collision avoidance systems: Some modern trucks have advanced safety features, such as collision avoidance systems, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. These technologies aim to mitigate the risk of accidents.
Legal Implications and Accountability
Truck accidents can have significant legal implications, and determining accountability often involves a complex analysis of various factors. That’s because truck accidents involve multiple parties, as rightly stated by TorHoerman Law. The website states that the primary difference between car and truck accidents is the number of parties that can be held liable.
For instance, if it is a commercial truck, the driver, the company, and even the driver’s manager can be liable for the accident. Therefore, the legal landscape of truck accidents becomes a little more complicated than car collisions.
Industry Perspectives and Safety Initiatives
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented several initiatives to improve safety. Industry leaders have also established their initiatives to promote safe driving habits among drivers and prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.
The FMCSA specified that truck drivers should not drive more than 11 hours per day or 70 hours in 8 days. It has also been found that 44% of long-haul truck drivers show depression, which eventually results in substance abuse. Hence, the FMCSA and the Department of Transportation mandate that at least 50% of commercial license holders must test for five types of drugs.
Trucking accidents represent a complex interplay of factors, and addressing the dynamics involved requires a multifaceted approach. From technological innovations to infrastructure improvements, a concerted effort from stakeholders is essential to mitigate the risks associated with commercial trucking. By understanding the unique challenges these massive vehicles pose, we can pave the way for safer roads.