Tractor-trailers are the biggest vehicles on the road and operating them requires special training and skill. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires carriers and drivers to follow specific rules when it comes to maintenance, driving hours, record-keeping, and other important tasks.
Unfortunately, carriers and drivers alike sometimes allow a quest for profits to compromise safety. When they cut corners or disregard regulations, people can get seriously hurt.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, semi-trucks are involved in one in 10 highway deaths. Although the majority of truck operators are responsible, hard-working individuals who obey the rules, even one negligent driver can cause a highway fatality.
Here are some of the top causes of semi-truck accidents:
1. Driver Fatigue
Federal hours-of-service rules permit commercial truck drivers to stay behind the wheel for up to 11 hours at a time. Anyone who has taken a long road trip knows that driving for even a few hours can be tiring.
Although truck drivers obviously drive long periods and distances far more often than an average commuter, extended hours behind the wheel of a big rig is a recipe for disaster for any commercial driver.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has long advocated installing electronic monitoring devices in tractor-trailers to replace old-fashioned handwritten logbooks that are prone to driver falsification.
Recently, the Department of Transportation adopted new rules that make electronic logging devices mandatory for truck and bus drivers. By December 2017, there will be about three million commercial truck drivers using ELDs.
2. High Speeds and Slow Braking
Trucks are heavy, weighing 20 to 30 times as much as a typical car. They take longer to speed up, but they also take a lot longer to slow down. Commercial vehicle speed limits vary by state, with most states requiring large trucks to travel at least 10 miles per hour slower than passenger vehicles on highways. Highway pileups are often caused by semi-trucks that could not brake in time to avoid a collision with another motorist.
3. Driver Distractions – “Safety-Critical Events”
Studies conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reveal that commercial truck drivers who text and drive are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical event“.
According to the FMCSA, a safety-critical event includes a crash, near-crash, or accidental lane change. As a result, the FMCSA now bans commercial motor vehicle drivers who transport hazardous materials from using handheld devices while driving. Safety experts advocate instituting a more comprehensive ban for all commercial truck drivers nationwide.
Visit here to read more about texting and driving involving tractor-trailer truck drivers.
4. Weather Conditions
Bad weather can make driving dangerous for anyone. When a heavy, fast-moving semi-truck is hurtling down the highway in heavy rain and other hazardous weather conditions can result in a devastating collision. Because it takes so long for tractor-trailers to stop, even a small patch of slick pavement can cause an operator to lose control. This is why it is extremely important for truck drivers to remain alert and in control of their trucks at all times.
Learn Your Rights with West Palm Beach Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a collision involving a tractor-trailer, or you have lost a loved one to wrongful death due to a semi-truck accident, then you should first understand your legal rights. And who better to help you understand you rights than an experienced West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer.
As West Palm Beach truck accident attorney, we know first hand how horrific these accidents can be. These types of cases can be incredibly complex. Don’t wait to speak to an attorney.