Even a minor collision can have devastating consequences. But when these accidents involve big rigs, the results can be fatal, even at low speeds. But what causes these accidents? And what can we do to prevent them? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) diligently tracks the factors that lead to these incidents. This research helps the organization develop initiatives to decrease accident frequency, but the process is ongoing. Drivers must do everything they can to stay safe on the road. Here, our Charleston truck accident attorneys discuss the common causes of truck accidents.
The Rise of the Trucking Industry
Millions of trucks travel billions of miles (approximately 432.9 billion miles in 2006) to produce billions of dollars in revenue. As these drivers push themselves to meet tight deadlines, they may neglect maintenance or fail to check how well their loads are secured.
These vehicles are significantly bigger and heavier than others on the road; though the industry is tightly regulated, accidents still happen at an alarming rate. There are numerous causes for these incidents, but the most common include:
Driver error is the most significant cause of trucking accidents. Though this encompasses issues like fatigue and speeding, it also includes distracted driving (e.g., texting and driving), following too closely, and substance abuse. Since professional drivers are held to higher standards, these actions are considered negligent.
Truck driving is a demanding career, and sometimes, inexperience leads to an accident. Teamsters are accountable for following special regulations, properly loading their equipment, taking breaks when needed, and completing relevant training. Companies may inadequately prepare these individuals, or drivers may simply make “rookie mistakes” that lead to devastating consequences.
This category can include everything from low tires to warning device failures. Brakes and all internal equipment must also be carefully maintained. This is another area the FMCSA scrutinizes, requiring all employees to follow strict regulations for inspection, maintenance, and repair guidelines. Failing to comply with these laws can lead to extensive litigation and heavy consequences.
We cannot always predict the weather, but professional drivers must know how to stay safe and when to stop when things get bad. Issues like speeding and other negligent decisions are exacerbated by inclement weather, and drivers must stay safe in any conditions.
As with everything else in the industry, the total weight a truck can carry is carefully regulated. However, that does not stop companies and drivers from attempting to make the most of their trips by overloading. Unfortunately, pushing these limits creates remarkably unsafe conditions. Even experienced drivers may lose control of their vehicles when these laws are broken.
Fatigue and Speeding
There are many corners a driver might cut in an attempt to make his or her deadlines. Working long hours and speeding are two seemingly easy ways to catch up on lost time, but when this leads to an accident, the driver may face serious consequences. The FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations dictate the maximum average hours per week drivers may work, how much rest they get, and when they must take a break. Sadly, these laws are often broken.
Though negligence may not always be a factor in these incidents, truck drivers are held to higher standards than other drivers on the road. Thus, an issue like incorrectly loading materials or driving too fast for conditions can have significant consequences.
Fight for Your Rights with a West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
Despite the FMCSA’s tight regulations, truck accidents are still common. There are, however, legal options a person can explore when injured in one of these accidents. Insurance and trucking companies are experts at minimizing payouts, so make sure your rights are fully represented.
For more information, contact the West Virginia truck accident lawyers at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC. Let us put our years of experience into your case, and we will diligently work for the best settlement possible. Start by setting up your free case evaluation.