Commercial semi trucks are often seen as large and potentially dangerous vehicles on highways and roads that are occupied by smaller passenger vehicles. This is because the injuries sustained in a semi truck accident are often more severe due to the size and weight difference between vehicles. Additionally, a seemingly insignificant driver error that often goes without consequence in smaller cars may be magnified when the driver of a fully loaded eighteen-wheeler acts out of negligence.
Although trucking accidents can occur due to one or more factors, some particular situations can increase a driver’s risk of causing a wreck:
1. Driver error
Of all of the possible causes of semi truck accidents, driver error is ten times more likely to result in a wreck than any other factor, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Factors that can lead to unnecessary risks and inhibit the driver’s ability to promptly react to the potential dangers on the road include:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while distracted
- Misjudging the speed of other vehicles
- Failing to pay attention
- Aggressively driving
- Following vehicles too closely
- Driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions
- Traveling off the road
- Crossing the lines of road lanes
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
2. Truck equipment failure
Secondly, equipment failures can include manufacturing and design errors such as defective tires or a lack of reverse-detection warning devices. Equipment failure may also include mechanical issues such as improperly maintained tires or brakes. According to the FMCSA, 30% of semi trucks involved in crashes were due to failing brakes. The FMCSA requires every trucking company and driver to perform regular inspections and maintenance of their fleet as well as pre-trip inspections to make sure that all parts are functioning as intended.
3. Weather and road conditions
Weather conditions may severely affect a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle. Due to the heavy weight of loads in the trucks as well as the semi trucks themselves, braking distance often increases in poor weather. Drivers are often unable to quickly stop or easily steer and they may fail to account for these limitations. Additionally, in order to keep a time schedule, a semi truck driver may not slow down when needed, such as in heavy traffic, around sharp turns, or in construction zones.
4. Improper loading
When a truck’s load is not safely distributed within the trailer, the load can cause the truck to malfunction. Improper loading commonly results in the truck being off-balance and may cause the vehicle to roll over. Failing to adequately load the vehicle can also cause the cargo or goods to fall off the truck and onto nearby cars or onto the roadways.
Usually, the exact cause of a truck accident is not immediately apparent. For those who have been involved in a semi truck accident, it may be beneficial to seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who can investigate the details of the case and determine the cause. Additionally, an attorney can help the victim and the family determine who should be held accountable for the wreck, as there may be more than one responsible party.
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What to do next? If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident and you would like to learn more about pursuing a claim for compensation, Van Sant Law, can help. We will provide you with a free case evaluation and help you to determine if you have a valid case. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not be required to pay any of our legal expenses unless we can make a recovery on your behalf. For more information and to schedule your free case evaluation, please call us today at (678) 679-6710.