You will experience a chill running down your back when reading anything related to truck accidents. Death numbers range in thousands if you look at the global reports. Statistics show that up to 74% of fatal accidents include large trucks. 30% of such accidents are attributable to tire defects. Up to 19% of the truck accidents happened anywhere from noon to 3 p.m. Passenger truck occupants account for 68% of the fatalities.
We could go on with the devastating statistics. Yet there is one reality we cannot escape. Trucks are a critical mode of transportation. The capacity to handle bulk makes them ideal for moving products from point to point. And that’s not all; thousands of people depend on the industry for jobs.
But, the industry has managed to get a level of infamy for various reasons. Some companies have unfavourable work policies that contribute to accidents. Drivers must deliver; otherwise, they could lose jobs or pay. That has led to recklessness on the road to beat timelines. Some drivers work under extreme fatigue, further exacerbating the grim situation.
The article explores large truck accidents, the factors behind such, and the consequences in greater detail.
Large Truck Accidents-What You Need To Know
As stated, we cannot ignore the vital role of the trucking industry. 18-wheeler trucks, for example, can move vast amounts of products. That makes them a favorite for transporters and customers alike.
Weighing up to 80,000 pounds, such trucks are very heavy. That makes them a significant threat to the drivers themselves and other road users. The construction of the trucks is another factor to note. Due to the massive size, elements like the wind will impact them differently than a small car. Strong wind conditions can cause them to go off balance resulting in accidents.
Reports show that 18-wheeler-trucks cause car wrecks. In the US, over 4136 people lost their lives in 2018 due to large truck accidents. 67% of the fatalities were passengers and drivers of the other vehicle involved in the collision. 16% were passengers in the trucks.
If you are ever in the unfortunate position of being in a truck accident, consult a truck accident lawyer. They specialize in such litigation and can help you get fair compensation if you need to make a personal injury claim. We will touch on this a little more in the article.
So what makes the trucks so dangerous?
The Sheer Size of the Trucks
If you are in a small car and a truck approaches from behind, it can feel like a scene from a movie; a very bad, very scary scene. The sheer size is quite intimidating. You find yourself stepping on the accelerator just to put some distance between you and the truck.
The size of the trucks has a lot to do with why they are accident-prone.
- The turning radius is wide. You have seen how the truck drivers navigate at intersections or corners to turn the truck in the right direction.
- Stoppage time is significantly higher when talking about trucks. The drivers need a safe distance to bring the truck to a complete stop.
- The size makes the trucks prone to tire blowouts. The trucking companies must ensure the tires are always in proper condition. But, the reality is that some of them will not keep up with maintenance to keep down costs. You can only imagine the pressure on the tires to carry all that weight without experiencing severe wear and tear.
- The size of the truck can impact movement. This can severely affect the stability of the vehicle.
Driver Related Errors
There are several ways truck drivers contribute to road accidents.
Driving when experiencing severe fatigue is one major reason for accidents. It is not uncommon for drivers to fall asleep behind the wheel. Even if they stay awake, their reflexes are sluggish. Think about how you feel when you are so tired. Now place yourself behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound, 18-wheeler truck. Without a doubt, your ability to react to any emergency will not be at optimal levels due to fatigue.
Driver distraction is another driver-related error. You have probably been guilty of one or more transgressions yourself. Answering or texting on the cell phone is one issue. The other is fiddling with the radio stations, trying to find something worth listening to.
Any distraction that takes your mind off the road impacts you on three levels. These are:-
- Visual distraction makes you take your eyes off the road, even for one fateful second. Reading a text while driving would be a good example.
- Manual distraction takes your hands off the steering wheel. Answering that text while driving applies in this situation.
- Cognitive distractions remove your thoughts and mind away from concentrating on driving. This may perhaps be the hardest to manage because it may not always be conscious. If you, for example, have a sick dependent, the stress and constant worry can cause cognitive distraction.
Now, let’s put the above into context. It takes about 5 seconds to respond to or read a text message. That means 5 seconds of visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. In that split second, a cyclist could be crossing the road. Or, the driver in front of you could be slowing down, maybe breaking or turning.
Now, remember the other point we made about truck stopping distance. Even if the driver looked up and realized what was going on, they would not be able to apply the brakes in time. And even if they step on the brakes, the truck technology will not allow for a short braking distance.
About 1.6 million car accidents are attributable to phone usage while driving. 25% of car crashes in the United States occur due to texting accidents. Indeed, driving while texting has managed to surpass driving under the influence in how dangerous it is.
Driving Trucks Under the Influence
Driving under the influence applies to alcohol or drugs. Yet, even specific medications can alter the driver’s state of mind. Taking cough medicine, for example, can lead to drowsiness.
Unsafe Driving Habits
Some drivers are just negligent in how they handle the trucks. You have seen those who change lanes without warning. Others don’t signal or maintain safe distances from other road users.
Other factors include speed, illegal manoeuvring, failure to look, and unfamiliarity with the road. Not considering the road conditions or weather can also result in serious traffic accidents.
Health issues can cause an inability to act on the driver’s part. Let’s take the example of the driver experiencing a heart attack while driving.
Trucking Company Issues
The trucking company has the responsibility to ensure the following:-
- Proper maintenance of the trucks through regular servicing.
- Avoid overloading in an effort to make more money per trip.
- Ensure proper loading and securing of the luggage. Failure to do so could lead to a lack of balance which could result in jackknifing or overturning of the truck.
- Hiring competent drivers with a track record of handling vehicles within that weight range.
Consequences of Truck Accidents
We have touched extensively on fatalities that arise from truck accidents. Luckily, some people manage to survive them but still have to live with severe injuries for the rest of their lives. These include neck, back, spinal cord, and chest injuries. Others lose limbs or suffer broken bones or burns. Traumatic brain injuries are also not uncommon after severe truck accidents.
What we have described so far are physical manifestations. Surviving victims have to live with the trauma afterward. And the devastating impacts also spill over to other family members or carers.
There is also the loss of income during recovery. This can impact the financial well-being of the survivor and any other dependents.
Wrongful death claims and personal injury lawsuits provide a way to get some compensation. In both cases, the onus is on the plaintiff to prove negligence on the truck driver’s part. It would, for example, be hard to verify that the truck driver is to blame and not the company.
Liability can even extend to the manufacturing company. Were there, for example, defective parts that could have contributed to the accident? Did the truck company know the defects existed but decided to send the truck to the road anyway?
To increase the chances of success in getting compensation, it is crucial to hire the right attorney. Every state has its own interpretation of death and personal injury claims. Some states give punitive damages. In that case, they seek to punish the person who caused the accident.
Others also include compensatory damages. This can help take care of burial expenses and medical bills that arise from the accident.
It is not possible to know how much money you can recover from wrongful or personal injury claims. Many factors go into deciding the final amount you get. A good lawyer will walk you through the process and tell you what to expect.
Without a doubt, such cases can take a long time. It can be stressful, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. But with the right team, the chances of successful resolution are very high.
Truck accidents have become an unfortunate reality on our roads. The impact of such can be devastating on the victims, victims’ families, and carers. The statistics above show how many people lose their lives due to truck accidents. It could be due to driver error, distracted driving, fatigue, and driving under the influence. The company can also be to blame if it does not take good care of the trucks.
Overloading and improper load balancing are other issues. Families and victims can seek compensation for wrongful death or personal injury claims. The best advice we can give is to look for a competent lawyer in that area of expertise with a good grasp of applicable state laws.