Truck Hazards

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Trucks are some of the biggest and heaviest vehicles on the road. For that reason alone, trucks are devastating when involved in traffic accidents. Their mere size and weight is enough to seriously injure or kill someone. It becomes worse if that someone is an innocent motorist or passer by. According to the website of New Jersey truck accident lawyers, such incidents may be subject to legal action, especially if there is proof of the truck’s recklessness and negligence.

Driver Error

Many truck accidents are caused by the truck drivers themselves, mainly because of reckless and negligent tendencies such as distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigue, inattention, speeding, and utter disregard of traffic rules and safety precautions.

Mechanical Defects

Even diligent truck drivers may be involved in truck accidents because of unexpected circumstances like sudden mechanical defects and malfunctions. Many of these are design and manufacturer errors, like brake defects and tire blowouts. But these things can also happen because of the fault of the truck driver or the truck company. For instance, poor maintenance of the brakes and tires may result to wear and tear.

Improper Trailer Loading

The majority of the truck’s weight is more often in the trailer, so it is very susceptible to malfunctions as well, especially if the cargo is not loaded properly or the trailer is overloaded. The trailer will have the tendency to tip or jackknife. Overloading can also cause tire blowouts, because of the tires not being able to support the weight of the trailer.

Weather and Road Conditions

Another external factor that may cause truck accidents is the weather condition, like how rain and snow may make the road more slippery and how fog can affect visibility. The condition of the road should also be taken into consideration, regardless of weather. Narrow lanes, sharp curves, and unpaved roads are just some of the hazards truckers need to look out for.

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Truck Accidents due to’ Negligent Hiring

On August 1, 2006, a minivan, which had four occupants, a woman, her mother, and her two sons – one was 15 months old, while the other was 3 years old – was caught in traffic congestion on Interstate 80. The minivan slowed down behind a flat-bed truck. Unknown to the woman driving the van was a fast approaching three-axle Intercontinental 9400 semi-trailer. The semi-trailer failed to stop on time, rear-ended the van, crushed and slammed it into the flat-bed truck, causing it to be engulfed in fire. No one survived the accident: not the semi-trailer driver and, definitely, not anyone among those that occupied the minivan.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fatal truck accidents happen almost 11 times a day, resulting to more than 4,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries each year. Compared to car accidents, truck accidents may be fewer, however, its results are always more destructive and tragic due to their huge size.

Because of the major contribution trucks make in the country’s economy, drivers of smaller vehicles will just have to get used to sharing the road with these huge vehicles. To help lessen the fear of so many other motorists from driving alongside trucks, the government makes sure that only qualified, licensed and well trained drivers are allowed to operate these. Laws, like the allowed maximum number of driving hours and the required number of hours of rest, lower level of blood alcohol concentration (0.04%), strict prohibition of the use of cell phone, use of standard tires and brakes, regular maintenance of the vehicle, and a mandate on employers to keep bad drivers off the road, have also been passed with the aim of ensuring the safety operation of trucks .

Despite the enforcement of trucking laws, however, many employers manage to require their drivers to be on the road longer than the maximum number of hours of service. Many are even able to hire drivers who do not possess the required skill, fail to train drivers about safe operation of trucks, as well as fail to impose disciplinary actions on drivers who commit traffic violations, especially DUI.

Hiring a driver with a bad driving record or keeping a driver despite repeated traffic violations is an act of negligent hiring – a major offense committed by employers who only intend to earn, while compromising the safety of many others, even of their own driver. According to the law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., this is one example of careless employer act to which the liable employer can be held totally responsible and for which he or she can be required to answer in court to face any lawsuit filed by his or her victim/s.

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Hazards of driving a truck aggressively

When semitrailer truck drivers become aggressive behind the wheels, many people on the road are at high risk of suffering serious injuries in accidents. People who have been injured in accidents caused by aggressive truck drivers may pursue damage claims for them to possibly recover their financial loss, according to the website of Ausband & Dumont.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers a driver as aggressive when he or she “commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” In the U.S. alone, aggressive driving is considered to be one of the serious problems on the road. Truck drivers are trained and required to always practice safety precautions during operations. However, there are situations when heavy truck drivers become aggressive and operate the truck with unusual high speed rate. In Georgia trucks are required to have a speed limit of 65 mph on access roads, 55 mph on urban interstates and 70 mph on rural interstates. Truckers are required to pay fine upon excessive speeding conviction in the state.

Due to its enormous size and weight, catastrophic accident often is the aftermath of speeding heavy trucks. Families whose loved ones become victims of truck accidents caused by an aggressive speeding driver are left dealing with great financial loss. A simple funeral service is often expensive. A person who was seriously injured in such accidents may require series of medical treatments and prolonged therapy sessions to recover from his or her injuries. Though some of truck accident victims fortunately recover from their injuries, they are no longer capable of doing any kind of work for them to earn a living. At some point, trucking companies can also be liable if their drivers became aggressive and caused injuries to people when involved in accidents. Trucking companies are required by federal and state laws to follow standards in hiring drivers.

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