Truck Traffic is Increasing on Our Roads. Can Truck Accidents Be Prevented?
Truck accidents are an all too common tragedy that strikes thousands of Americans every year. With more and more of us ordering online from the comfort of our homes, truck traffic has increased steadily ever since the pandemic began. And with more trucks on the road, the possibility of more truck accidents increases dramatically over time.
Each one of those crashes represents the pain and suffering of truck accident victims. They represent thousands to millions of dollars in damages, medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Unfortunately, they may also represent the last moments of the life of a loved one. But is there a way that a truck crash can be prevented?
If you have been involved in a truck accident, immediately contact the truck accident attorneys of Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys to help get the justice you deserve.
What is a Truck Accident?
Before we jump into explaining how to prevent truck accidents, it is important to understand some of the background and definitions associated with tractor trailer wrecks. Firstly, what is a large truck? It’s not only simply a shiny big rig you see rolling down the highway next to your car on your commute to work, but according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it is any vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds.
These vehicles and their truck drivers are subject to special licensing requirements as well as operational requirements and are strictly regulated by state and federal governments. This is to ensure that these massive metal motors are operating in the safest possible manner at all times. When a commercial truck driver fails to comply with these regulations they not only endanger the lives of other motorists, but potentially open up the truck driver, the trucking company, the broker, or the truck manufacturer to liability.
Some of those regulations are:
- Truck drivers must obtain and maintain a commercial motor vehicle operator’s license
- The truck driver cannot operate a vehicle when the driver’s alertness is impaired by fatigue
- Truck drivers must follow the speed limits in the jurisdiction in which they are operating
- The truck driver must inspect the vehicle to make sure it is in good working order
- Truck drivers are forbidden from using alcohol while on duty
- Cargo must be adequately distributed and the load secured so as not to pose a risk
Getting into a truck accident is much different than getting into a car accident. When you get into an accident with another car, the chances are there are only a handful of responsible parties for the accident. But when it comes to a truck accident, the at-fault parties include not only the truck driver, but the trucking company, the shipper, the manufacturer, other drivers, or even the government. This is what makes truck accident cases so difficult to navigate.
The truck accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have extensive experience dealing with these regulations and are intimately familiar with how they may have played a role in your crash. They will get the evidence needed to prove who is liable for the accident and will speak with the insurance companies on your behalf to make sure you receive the maximum amount of compensation.
How Dangerous is a Truck Accident?
Add a minimum of 10,000 pounds and ranging all the way up to 80,000 pounds, large trucks or heavy pieces of equipment. With the average speed limit on US highways being 65 mph, that is a lot of potential energy. For this reason, when passenger cars are involved in crashes with commercial motor vehicles like semi trucks or tractor trailers, the results can be devastating. Property damage to passenger cars is almost guaranteed, while serious injuries are very common and all too often result in death.
The statistics of truck accidents throughout the United States show just how dangerous these crashes can be. According to the National Safety Council, large trucks account for 9 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents in the United States. In addition, 107,000 trucks were involved in motor vehicle accidents that resulted in an injury in 2020.
Common injuries that are associated with truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Neck or spinal injuries, such as whiplash
- Broken ribs or other torso trauma
- Lacerations (cuts caused by glass, metal, or other crash debris)
- Broken bones
- Internal bruising or bleeding
- Wrongful death
Any one of these injuries can result in hundreds of thousands and even up to millions of dollars in medical expenses including hospital stays, medication, medical devices, physical therapy, home health care, and funeral costs for passenger vehicle drivers. That’s not to mention the monetary loss from losing the ability to work either temporarily or permanently. Some of these costs may be recoverable and that is why you want to contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys as soon as you are able to make sure that you have one of the most experienced truck accident litigators on your side and fighting for what you are owed.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
In order to understand how to prevent truck accidents, we first must understand some of the most common reasons truck accidents occur.
Truck Driver Error
Human error is the most common cause of all motor vehicle accidents, including those involving large trucks like semi trucks and tractor trailers. Examples of driver error include:
Commercial Truck Driver Non-Performance: The driver fell asleep or was physically impaired for another reason.
Distracted Driving: The driver was inattentive, was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason.
Poor Decisions: The driver was driving too fast for the road conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.
Performance: The driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.
Vehicle Causes: The vehicle itself contributes to a large number of serious truck wrecks. Problems with the truck’s brakes, one or more of its tires, and having an unsecured or shifting load were the top vehicle-related causes of truck accidents.
Truck vs. Passenger Car Accidents
Approximately half of all large truck crashes involve a collision with a passenger motor vehicle. The following are the top 10 associated factors identified in crashes that involve a large truck and a passenger motor vehicle:
- Interruption of the traffic flow
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Inadequate surveillance
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Illegal maneuver
- False assumptions about other road user’s actions
- Distraction by object or person inside the vehicle
Is There a Way to Prevent a Truck Accident?
Now that we have a good understanding of what causes truck accidents, we can start to figure out strategies to avoid them in the first place.
Pay Attention: As we mentioned earlier, human error is the most common cause of truck accidents. The easiest way to reduce your chances of being involved in a truck collision is simply to avoid distracted driving and engage in safe driving. Put your cell phone in “do not disturb” mode or simply place it somewhere inaccessible during your drive. If you have to use your phone, take advantage of hands-free capabilities and avoid texting at all costs.
Inspect Your Vehicle: Make sure that your car is in good working order prior to hitting the road. Making sure your tires have the correct pressure, windshield wipers are functioning, all your lights work properly, and your brakes are up to snuff are all ways in which you can stave off a disastrous outcome.
Stay Back: Never follow a large truck too closely. If you are unable to stop in time, rear-ending an object as large as a tractor trailer can end in catastrophe. It is recommended that you stay a minimum of three seconds behind the truck in front of you, which will leave plenty of time to recognize the truck stopping, apply your brakes, and stop your car.
Go Wide: Try to give large trucks a wide berth. The closer you are traveling to a truck, the more likely you are to be involved in a collision with it should something go wrong (load shift, tire blow, brake failure, etc). By generally staying away from trucks, except to pass, you will reduce the risk that you will be involved in a truck collision. Remember to always pass trucks on the left, giving the driver the best chance of seeing you in their mirrors.
See Something, Say Something: If you observe a large truck on the highway that is driving recklessly, appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or has unsafe vehicle defects, as soon as safely possible call 911. Make a note of the trailer or commercial truck license plate, or the DOT number and provide any or all of those to the police when you call in your report. Remember to get as far away as possible from an unsafe commercial truck.
What Should You Do if You are Involved in a Truck Accident?
Staying calm is the most important thing you can do. Remain in your vehicle, put your hazards on, and immediately dial 911. Your safety as well as that of any of your passengers, the truck occupants, and the rest of the motoring public is paramount. Wait for police and emergency medical services to arrive and never leave the scene of an accident. Once emergency personnel are at the scene of your crash, seek medical attention for you, your passengers, or anybody else injured in the crash. Write down the names and badge numbers of any police at the scene and take your own photographs if you are physically able to and the circumstances allow you to do it safely. Never admit fault and only discuss the details of the crash with the police or your own insurance agent.
Following a truck accident, you will want to act quickly to make sure your personal injury claim is protected. Speaking with a truck accident lawyer from Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys should be your first step. Other steps you can take to strengthen your claim include:
- Keep records of any expenses you have following the accident. This includes a record of all medical procedures and appointments, keeping track of all lost time from work, and collecting all receipts from work done on your vehicle.
- Avoid speaking with the other party’s insurance company. If you do speak with them before you have the chance to speak with our attorneys, do not allow them to record the conversation and keep your comments brief.
- Continue going to your medical appointments and get the treatment you need. If you stop getting treatment, the other party may claim that since you stopped treatment, you’re not as injured as you claim to be.
- Do not accept a settlement offer until you first speak with a truck accident attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys.
Recover Damages After a Truck Accident
Hopefully, armed with the knowledge of the primary causes of truck accidents along with strategies to help prevent accidents from happening, you can reduce the chances that you are involved in collision with a semi truck, tractor trailer, or similar large truck.
However, not all accidents are avoidable. If you were the victim of a truck accident, contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our expert truck accident lawyers have decades of truck accident litigation experience and will work tirelessly to get you or your family the compensation you deserve to recover from your accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.