When was the last time you were driving on a highway and didn’t see a commercial truck? Hundreds of thousands of commercial trucks use highways all across America. Big rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds – as much as six elephants – dwarfing the average passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, when a tractor trailer of that size hits a car, biker, or pedestrian, the result is usually death or serious injury.
Large trucks are involved in one out of every seven highway fatalities. Even more concerning, in nearly every fatal truck accident, the driver or passengers of other cars are the ones who suffer, and the truck driver walks away. Sadly, so many of these accidents are caused by preventable mistakes.
Trucking is Dangerous – for Everyone
The sheer size and weight of trucks creates a danger for other drivers on the road. Not only are trucks so difficult to see around, they cannot see you well either. Their size and weight creates a huge risk that improperly loaded trucks could roll over or fishtail. Fishtailing can cause a “jackknife” situation, where the cab bends back against the trailer. Even if the truck is able to maintain its lane, because of the weight, a truck may require up to 20-times the stopping distance of a normal car.
Truck drivers are required to have a special driver’s license to drive a tractor-trailer, because it is that much harder to drive than a regular car. The extra training requirements and government regulation show that even the law sees trucks as a danger that requires the utmost care and skill to keep others safe.
“The Truck Accident Team was always there for us. I lost my sister, it was heartbreaking. They found a good therapist for us, took care of anything we needed. They made us feel like family.”
Rules Get Broken
There are pages and pages of regulations governing commercial trucking, controlling everything from regular maintenance to hours spent behind the wheel. Unfortunately, when trucking companies cut corners to save money, and drivers are pushed to the limit, accidents happen. Here are some common ways that trucking companies break rules:
Drivers Drive for Too Long
The number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to work is heavily regulated by the federal government. Truck drivers must take a 10-hour break after 11 hours of driving, must take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving, and can certainly drive no more than 60 hours in seven days. Some truck drivers may break these rules to get higher wages. Others may be forced by their employers to break these rules because the trucking companies want to avoid hiring more truckers. However this happens, it can lead to tired driving that puts everyone on the road at risk.
Trucks are Overloaded and Under-inspected
Just like the regulations for drivers, there are strict regulations for how long trucks are allowed to stay on the road, and what kind of maintenance and inspections they need to undergo. There are also strict weight limits of 80,000 pounds. Sometimes, in the interest of getting more cargo to its location, faster, trucking companies may overload their trucks. Drivers may be instructed to skip weigh-ins to avoid the slow process. Maintenance may be skipped, too, to get trucks back on the road faster. All of this means that trucks that weigh more than they are allowed to are on the road with less supervision than they are supposed to have – which can create extra dangers.
Some Truckers Resort to Extreme Measures
Anyone who works an eight-hour shift knows that staying alert at work can be difficult. This can be even more difficult on an 11-hour shift where alertness if vital. That means some truckers resort to abusing caffeine, prescription drugs, or even illicit drugs and alcohol while driving in order to stay alert. In 2012, more than 450 people were killed or injured by truck drivers who had previous convictions for driving while intoxicated. That shows that truck companies can be just as negligent for hiring drivers who have been proven dangerous on the road.
Deadlines Create Problems
Truck drivers are often expected to make long runs, sometimes over dangerous roads and terrain, to get cargo to its destination on time. That might mean speeding or making risky moves. Plus, anyone who drives long enough might get lazy and make poor road safety decisions.
What Can You Do About a Truck Accident?
To get your case resolved, you need attorneys on your side who have experience fighting for people injured by truck drivers. Whether the crash was caused by drowsy driving, drunk driving, safety issues, or simple driver error, we can get you the representation you need.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a truck driver or the poor practices of the trucking industry, call the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team. We have decades of experience with truck accident cases. Call (800) 896-6173 today to get the help you deserve.