Studying the latest truck accident fatality report may seem like a grim task, but for drivers of smaller passenger vehicles, it could be a lifesaver. That’s because understanding some of the major contributing factors to truck accident deaths can help drivers take evasive action to help avoid some of the situations that lead to destructive accidents.
Sharing the road with large commercial trucks is a daily part of life, and the latest statistics indicate that there are millions of more trucks on the road now than in the past decade, spurred by a robust economy and a boom in technology and oil drilling that has created a greater need for shipping goods.
Before we take a look at some of the causes of fatal truck wrecks, it is important to take a quick look at some of the 2015 statistics related to truck accidents.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 4,050 trucks involved in fatal accidents in 2015, which was an 8-percent increase from 2014, in which there were 3,749 deadly truck accidents.
In addition, 53,263 trucks were involved in accidents that resulted in injuries and more than 95,000 trucks required a tow away after an accident.
To help keep you safer on the road, here are some of the contributing factors in fatal truck accidents.
Speeding as a Contributing Factor In Truck Accident Deaths
Speeding is a contributing factor in many passenger vehicle accidents, so it’s no surprise that traveling too fast is one of the major causes of truck accidents. Most commercial trucks routinely exceed 26,000 pounds, so commercial truck drivers are more likely to lose control of their vehicles if they are going too fast.
The FMCSA does not consider speeding to be confined merely to drivers who exceed the posted speed limit. In fact, ‘traveling too fast,’ is defined as driving too fast for conditions, driving too fast for the cargo being delivered, or for other reasons that would make it unsafe to drive fast.
Therefore, commercial truck drivers can still drive below the speed limit and be considered to be ‘traveling too fast’ if they were doing so in a work zone, during rush hour, or during inclement weather.
Commercial truck drivers who travel too fast, or drivers who exceed the speed limit, are a problem because it takes a truck much longer to come to a complete stop than it does for a passenger vehicle.
The average tractor-trailer that weighs 80,000 pounds with a full load that is traveling 65 miles per hour requires 525 feet to come to a complete stop. That is the length of nearly two football fields, so imagine the impact that truck would make when it collides into the back of a passenger vehicle?
If you are on the road with a speeding commercial truck, it’s vital that you slow down and let that truck pass you by. Speeding trucks can veer into other lanes, causing chain-reaction accidents, so take evasive action to ensure that your vehicle is not in that truck’s path.
Fatigue Contributes To Many Truck Accidents
Fatigue is a persistent issue in the trucking industry, because long hours spent behind the wheel can leave drivers exhausted. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that fatigued driving is a major cause of truck accidents.
By law, drivers can spend 11 consecutive hours driving before they have to take a break, but some drivers violate truck safety regulations by falsifying their log books and claiming that they were on a rest break when they were, in fact, still on the road. Most truck drivers are paid per-mile and not per-hour, so they are under tremendous pressure to drive as many hours as possible to ensure that they meet their tight delivery schedules.
Sleep deprivation among truck drivers can cause them to feel drowsy, to feel as if they can’t keep their eyes open, and to feel as if they can’t control their vehicles.
Fatigue can also cause drivers to close their eyes, and even just a few seconds of falling asleep at the wheel can result in a devastating accident. Fatigue also robs a truck driver of reaction time, which means that he/she is not able to make safe decisions when something unexpected occurs on the road.
Furthermore, fatigue affects focus, concentration and even memory. It also significantly increases the chances that a driver will make an error. And studies have found that fatigue is heightened from midnight to about 6 a.m., because natural sleep patterns tend to affect the bodies of truck drivers, making it more likely that they will fall asleep.
The FMCSA has taken steps to deal with truck driver fatigue by requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all commercial trucks by December 2017. These ELDs cannot be falsified, and they allow truck company owners to monitor their drivers in real-time to ensure that they take their rest breaks and do not violate the hours-of-use regulations designed to prevent fatigued driving.
When you share the road next to a commercial truck, pay attention to the driver’s body language. Slumped shoulders, reddened eyes and slow movements could indicate that the driver is fatigued. If that’s the case, slow down your car and create a safe distance between you and that truck.
Recovering Damages In a Truck Accident
As you’ve seen, a truck accident can have many causes, and even though you can take evasive action to help lower the chances of being involved in a crash, there is no guarantee that a truck won’t strike your vehicle.
After you’ve suffered injuries in a truck accident, your best chance of recovering damages is by hiring an experienced and committed personal injury law firm such as the team at Rosner Law Offices, P.C. We have the lawyers, investigators and support staff to obtain fair and rightful compensation on your behalf.
Please call us today at (856) 502-1655 for a free legal consultation to see how we can help get you back on your feet and provide you with peace of mind as you recover from your injuries.