Everything You Need to Know About Truck Accidents Caused by Excessive Speeding
Accidents involving trucks and tractor-trailers can be pretty severe. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there are almost 7,000 truck and tractor-trailer crashes in the state every year. Between 100 and 200 of these accidents result in fatalities annually.
The severity of these accidents is not surprising because commercial large vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles. When the weight of the truck is combined with high speed, the outcome can be quite tragic.
This is why people who are involved in accidents with large commercial vehicles tend to suffer significant injuries. The authorities know this too. This is why the State of Pennsylvania has capped the upper speed limit for all vehicles at 70 miles per hour.
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Even then, the maximum speed limit in Pennsylvania isn’t set in stone. Our state has been known to review the speed limits on its roads during dangerous weather conditions. These new, temporary limits are usually put in place by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for the duration of the weather conditions.
All commercial truck drivers are expected to adhere to the Pennsylvania code on reasonable and prudent speed. They are thus required to drive with consideration for other road users, pay attention to possible road hazards and weather conditions, and ensure that they are not driving too fast for road conditions.
Many commercial truck drivers within the state take these rules seriously. Unfortunately, there’s a small percentage of drivers who ignore these speeding guidelines and cause devastating accidents in the process.
Reasons Why Truckers May Be Driving Too Fast
The speed of commerce in the U.S. runs pretty fast, and trucks play a crucial role in making that happen. As a key player in the nation’s logistics, trucks lug tons of goods across the country every year.
With recent positive developments in both the retail industry and the ever-rising demand of one-day shipping by customers, the supply chain and logistics industry has been forced to adapt.
To make speedy deliveries a reality, truckers are often forced to work with stricter delivery deadlines and drive for longer hours. As a result, many truckers are in the habit of driving too fast, at speeds that are at least 10 miles above the recommended speed limits.
While it’s great for customers to get their orders overnighted and products delivered very quickly, the development is taking a toll on truck drivers. Commercial truck drivers often must work longer shifts and do so with less sleep.
This pressure can contribute to the number of accidents involving trucks and tractor-trailers. The longer schedules and driving distance aren’t the only reasons for truckers speeding, though.
There are many reasons why commercial truck drivers drive too fast. The trucker may be:
- Driving while distracted – Talking on the phone, texting, or eating while driving. If the driver is not focused on the road, he/she may fail to notice – and react to – traffic ahead or a change in road conditions that warrant reduced speed.
- Driving aggressively – Sometimes, truckers (as well as car and SUV drivers) tailgate other drivers with the intention of encouraging them to speed up. However, this can be extremely dangerous.
- Young or inexperienced – The trucking industry has seen significant driver shortage in recent years, so the industry just hires people who can drive rather than people who are experienced truck drivers
- Paid by the mile – This means that the driver must hurry and cover more miles to make more money
- Under the influence of alcohol or other illicit substances – For example, some truckers smoke marijuana while driving
Any of these factors can contribute to a truck wreck that causes devastating injuries or even loss of life.
Dangers of Driving Too Fast In a Truck
Truck drivers traversing Pennsylvania’s inner roads and highways are mandated to drive safely. Unfortunately, many truckers are often under immense pressure to meet delivery deadlines and targets, so they bend or even break the rules.
To meet up with the deadlines and avoid being penalized, these truckers often go heavy on the accelerator. The problem with truckers speeding is that it makes the roads unsafe for residents and commuters in Pennsylvania.
The speeding also increases the chances of the truck being involved in an unavoidable wreck. Some of the dangers of excessive speeding in Pennsylvania include:
- It’s harder to stop – Trucks and tractor-trailers often need more time to stop than other vehicles do. If the truck is moving too fast, the truck driver might be unable to stop or slow down in time if the traffic conditions suddenly require it.
- The trucker is likely to lose control – A truck driver is more likely to lose control of the rig if there’s a sudden need to avoid an obstacle or hazard.
- The trucker will be unable to navigate bends – Speeding truckers are more likely to get in a crash if they come upon a sudden bend in the road.
- Loads could topple – With particularly heavy or tall loads, speeding truckers may struggle to brake suddenly. Worse still, the load could topple and spill or cause a jackknifing incident.
All of these scenarios can lead to considerable injury and fatalities for other road users. One SmartDrive survey showed that truck drivers who exceed the recommended speed limits are 45-69 percent more likely to be involved in a collision than their counterparts who drive within the speed limits.
Should You Take the Offer from the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company?
Once you file a claim against the liable party (or parties), you can expect the liable party’s insurance company to reach out to you. This is even more likely if the insurance company finds their client to be liable.
When the insurance company contacts you, it will be with an offer that may seem pretty good to you. While you might be tempted to take the offer, you shouldn’t. Why? Well, insurance companies have adjusters whose job it is to make you an offer that’s significantly lower than the amount you actually deserve.
The insurance companies often count on the combination of the pressure of your present situation, of tactics like a limited time offer, and of the absence of a lawyer to get you to accept their offer.
Insurance adjusters will often make it seem like the insurance firm is doing you a favor and that you need to take the offer before it’s withdrawn. Don’t fall for this. As experienced truck and tractor-trailer accident lawyers, we’re sure that you can always get a lot more than what the insurance companies offer you as compensation.
Who is Liable in a Truck Accident Claim Caused by Excessive Speeding in PA?
When commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are involved in accidents with smaller vehicles, cyclists, motorcycles, and pedestrians, who is to blame? It depends on who was at fault in the accident.
In the State of Pennsylvania, anyone injured in a truck accident can file a personal injury claim against the following entities:
- The at-fault truck driver
- The trucking company that the driver works for – This applies the principle of vicarious liability under Pennsylvania state law
- Additional at-fault parties including the company responsible for the ownership, maintenance, or manufacturing of the truck itself
If negligence was a factor in your truck accident case, you’ll need to show that the truck driver’s negligence and carelessness resulted in your injuries or a loved one’s death. To do this effectively, you’ll need the help of an experienced truck accident and personal injury lawyers like the team at Munley Law.
As an award-winning local personal injury law firm highly experienced in truck accidents, Munley Law serves the whole of Pennsylvania and the nation as well. We represent drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and truck drivers who have been involved in a truck accident. Our unique experience and knowledge of these case types have made us one of the nation’s leading truck accident law firms.
If you have been in an accident involving trucks, come and talk to one of our highly experienced and qualified lawyers today. Call 844-658-7840 for a free consultation or visit our truck accident page to find out what we can do for you.