Common Truck Accident Causes
Truck accidents are far too common on our roadways, and they are also far too dangerous. The big rigs that share our highways are many, many times heavier and larger than the cars we drive, and this contributes to the fact that we are far more vulnerable to serious injuries than the truck drivers themselves are. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, consult with an experienced Tampa truck accident attorney today.
The Truck Driver’s Negligence
When it comes to truck safety, the truck drivers themselves are the first line of defense. All too often, truck accidents are caused by truck driver negligence, which can take any number of dangerous forms that include:
- Fatigue – Truck drivers are professional drivers who are governed by careful hours-of-service restrictions that some truckers fail to adhere to closely enough. Drowsy truck drivers can experience serious impairments that make them dangerous on the road.
- Impairment – The law and the trucking industry have no tolerance for truck drivers who imbibe in alcohol and/or drugs before getting behind the wheel.
- Distraction – Maneuvering a massive 18-wheeler safely through traffic requires utmost concentration and care, and there is absolutely no room for distractions. The distraction that continues to take center stage in terms of both danger and prevalence is the smartphone.
- Excess Speed – When it comes to traffic accident statistics, excess speed plays far too significant a role. When the vehicle that’s barreling down the road is an 80,000-pound fully loaded semi, the danger increases exponentially.
The Trucking Industry
The trucking industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is fueled by our bustling economy and by seemingly never-ending consumer demand. Trucking companies are driven by high profits, and they sometimes put these profits before safety, which puts everyone on our roadways at greater risk. When trucking companies fail to factor in federal and state hours-of-service restrictions into their drivers’ shifts, they push the limits of safe trucking. Further, truck drivers make their living behind the wheel, and their pay is dependent upon how many miles they put behind them. All of these factors can work together to make driving outside of the hours-of-service restrictions more likely, which means that accidents caused by truck driver fatigue are also more likely. Ultimately, accidents that are caused by truck driver negligence are often precipitated by negligence on the part of the trucking companies that hire them and require unrealistic (and unsafe) driving schedules.
Laws that Guide Truck Drivers and the Trucking Industry
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the federal regulations that all truck drivers and companies must follow. These regulations address a wide range of trucking-related matters, from inspections and maintenance to recordkeeping to conspicuity.
For example, the FMCSA limits the hours that truck drivers can put in behind the wheel, and these limits guide how trucking companies should schedule their drivers. These limitations include:
- After 10 consecutive hours off duty, truck drivers may put in a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.
- Truck drivers who have driven for 8 cumulative hours without an interruption of at least 30 minutes must take a 30-minute break.
- Truck drivers who have been on duty for 60 or 70 hours in 7 or 8 consecutive days must cease driving. Only after taking 34 consecutive hours off duty can a 7 or 8 consecutive day period begin anew.
Truck drivers and companies are expected to adhere to all applicable regulations and industry standards.
The Trucking Company’s Negligence
The trucking companies that send those semis out on our roads also bear considerable responsibility when it comes to truck safety and can also be at the root of truck accidents. Consider the following:
- Trucking companies that fail to hire safe, experienced truck drivers put everyone on our roadways at increased risk.
- Trucking companies that fail to hire experienced, reliable truck mechanics make truck accidents more likely.
- Trucking companies that fail to implement careful safety and maintenance standards or to enforce them set the stage for dangerous truck accidents.
- Trucking companies that put profits before safety contribute to an unsafe industry culture that helps to perpetuate truck accidents.
Due to the fact that the efforts of trucking companies and their truck drivers are so intertwined, it can be difficult to completely separate truck driver negligence from the trucking company’s negligence.
Dangerously Loaded Semis
The semis that we share our roads with are so much heavier than the cars we drive that there is no contest when it comes to accidents involving both. In fact, an important element of safe trucking is implementing safe loading systems that help distribute the weight evenly across the trailer (and that help distribute the weight safely from top to bottom). There are strict laws in place regarding a semi’s maximum total weight, and an important part of the reason for this is safety.
Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks are more likely to experience all of the following dangers:
- Blown tires
- Decreased maneuverability
- Increased risk of losing control of the truck in accidents
- Even longer stopping distances
- Greater damage in the event of an accident
Further, semis that don’t carry evenly distributed loads are more prone to shifting loads within their trailers, which can directly cause or exacerbate life-threatening truck accidents. Trucking companies, their loading crews, and their truck drivers all share responsibility for ensuring that their loads are safely distributed and don’t exceed the legal limits.
Discuss Your Case with a Dedicated Tampa Truck Accident Attorney Today
Trucking companies and their insurance companies will likely try to deny liability or minimize compensation whenever possible. Interacting with these insurers is a challenging and frustrating process, and one wrong word can affect your claim. Let a skilled attorney handle all of these interactions and communications for you.
If someone else’s negligence leaves you injured in a truck accident, you’re looking at a long, difficult path toward recovery ahead of you, and you need one of the resourceful Tampa truck accident lawyers at Tragos, Sartes & Tragos on your side. Our knowledgeable legal team is focused on providing you with the skilled legal guidance you need to help you resolve your case as favorably as possible. Your case matters, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 813-223-6405 for more information today.