If you have ever seen or been involved in a large truck accident, you know the damage trucks can do. What’s worrisome about truck accidents is that they are becoming more frequent. According to the most recent annual statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 3,757 people have died in collisions with trucks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 75 percent of those killed in large truck crashes are the occupants of other vehicles, while 11 percent are non-occupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
Why are trucking accidents so dangerous in Oklahoma and across the country? The truck accident lawyers of Burch, George & Germany, P.C., ask you to consider the following:
Trucks Outweigh Passenger Cars
First, commercial trucks – commonly called 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, semi-trailers, tanker trucks or “big rigs” – are vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more.
Passenger vehicles, on the other hand, range from around 2,700 pounds for compact cars to around 6,500 for a large sport utility vehicle (SUV).
So, commercial trucks will almost always significantly outweigh the vehicle they collide with on the road.
Truck Drivers Can Be Pushed to Dangerous Limits
Second, as the American Association for Justice (AAJ) points out, truck drivers are typically compensated by their miles driven – not their hours worked. Sometimes, this means they are pushed to meet deadlines despite other concerns. This can lead to problems that include:
- Fatigued driving – Truck drivers are often pushed to keep the big rigs rolling despite specific FMCSA regulations governing hours of service (HOS) behind the wheel and mandating rest breaks. Fatigued or drowsy driving leads to slowed reaction times and adversely affects drivers’ decision making, which can lead to crashes.
- Ignored safety measures – Among the FMCSA’s regulations are rules designed to ensure that cargo securement systems withstand the pressure of the cargo’s weight as the truck changes speed or turns. Ignoring these rules or using faulty equipment can lead to cargo spills that can hit other vehicles or cause wrecks and other property damage, or cargo shifts that cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
- Delayed repairs – Failures of brake systems and tires are among the most frequent vehicle-based causes of truck accidents. It takes time and costs money to repair brakes, replace worn tires or make other repairs to a truck, but trying to squeeze one more long trip out of worn truck components can have deadly consequences.
- Speeding – A study called the “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” (LTCCS) reported that 23 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when truck drivers were traveling too fast for conditions. The FMCSA defines this as traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving. Drivers might exceed safe speeds in conditions that include wet roadways (rain, snow, or ice), reduced visibility (fog), uneven roads, construction zones, curves, intersections, gravel roads, and heavy traffic.
- Distracted driving – The LTCCS reported that 8 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when drivers were externally distracted and 2 percent occurred when the driver was internally distracted. Another FMCSA study found 55 percent of distracted driving crashes involved the driver’s attention being diverted by some kind of internal distraction, such as interacting with another person or animal, or interacting with instrumentation, including the radio or a cell phone.
There are also cases where trucking accidents were caused by a drunk truck driver. These factors – alone or combined – can all make trucking a dangerous activity on our roads.
Contact an Oklahoma Truck Accident Attorney
Truck drivers and/or trucking companies can be held accountable if they violate the rules of the road and cause injury to others because of their negligence and recklessness. It’s important to get legal help immediately if you or a loved one has been injured in one of these accidents.
Contact Burch, George & Germany, P.C., today to receive a free consultation about your case.
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