A collision with a big-rig is the last thing someone expects when leaving her home to go to work or school, but that nightmare has become a reality for many Americans, as accidents involving large commercial trucks have increased dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, due to the sheer size and weight of large commercial vehicles, collisions involving semi-trucks can be catastrophic for the occupants of passenger vehicles.
In 2015, commercial trucks were involved in 4,050 fatal crashes; 87,000 crashes involving injuries; and 342,000 property damage accidents. These statistics are from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) annual Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report.
Passenger Driver Error
Safe driving practices are always important; particularly so when you're sharing the road with one or more large commercial trucks. Misjudging and overestimating a truck's handling ability is one of the biggest mistakes motorists can make when driving near a semi. Tractor trailers are big and heavy and, as a result, make wide turns and take far longer than a passenger vehicle to come to a stop.
Replace the following bad driving behaviors with good techniques to help keep you and your family safe:
- Never attempt to pass a truck on a road or curvy hill if doing so would require the truck to brake abruptly.
- Don't change lanes or merge out of the blue. Signal any lane changes or merges well in advance to give the commercial driver time to plan and execute a response.
- Never drive in the tractor trailer's “blind spots.” Not sure where the truck's blind spots are? Remember this helpful rule of thumb: If you can't see the truck's mirrors, the driver can't see you.
- Avoid driving between two large semi-trucks, as you'll likely be driving the blind spots of both vehicles.
Commercial Driver Error
Truck driver error can be caused by any number of things including:
- A demanding and unrealistic pickup or delivery schedule
- Inadequate training
- Unsafe behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, driving while tired, and driving under the influence of alcohol, or prescription/recreational drugs
Truck drivers can also make mistakes when loading cargo into their vehicle's trailer. While improperly loaded cargo may not sound deadly, it can be if the cargo shifts in transit, causing the trailer to weave in and out of lanes, tip onto its side, or dump its contents across the road.
Other Contributing Factors
Commercial drivers are required to comply with FMCSA mandates, such as the requirement to regularly inspect the big-rig's components, including the tires and brakes. Worn out or failing equipment should be serviced or replaced immediately, and failure to do so may result in the driver or the trucking company being held liable for any accident that occurs as a result of their negligence.
Inclement weather, such as fog, rain, snow and sleet, is also a contributing factor in many large truck accidents in the United States. The truck's size and weight can make it even more difficult to maneuver in weather that's less than ideal. If you're sharing the road with a semi when the weather is bad, make sure to give it an even wider-than-normal berth.
Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?
If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, the seasoned legal team at McGartland Law can help you explore all the legal options available to you. Not sure whether to file a personal injury lawsuit against the commercial driver, the trucking company, or the manufacturer of a defective part? We can help. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation consultation.