Commercial trucks such as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and delivery trucks pose a unique danger to passenger vehicles. Not only do the drivers of these trucks need to be highly trained and aware of these dangers, but other drivers also need to take precautions in their presence. What would seem like a minor error, such as failing to signal when turning, could result in a catastrophic crash with one of these massive vehicles.
In Alabama alone, there were 8,937 truck crashes in 2016, the year of the most recent data available from the state. This is a 54% increase from just five years prior. The fatality rate is also up 74% over five years, with 157 people losing their lives in truck crashes in 2016.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
The reason trucking accidents are so deadly is because of the size and weight of the vehicles. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds, and a 5,000-pound passenger vehicle is no match for one of these giants that is suddenly out of control on the road. These are dangerous crashes that can happen in a variety of ways and can be caused by several forms of negligence or carelessness.
The most common cause of trucking accidents is some kind of driver error. There are many mistakes that drivers can make which can lead to dangerous and deadly crashes. These include:
- Drowsy driving or driving under the influence
- Distracted driving
- Driving aggressively or too fast for conditions
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Frequent lane changes
- Improper turning
- Not obeying the rules of the road
- Failure to check blind spots
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
A commercial truck can drive thousands of miles in a single day. This adds up over several weeks and months, putting immense wear and tear on a vehicle. To keep up with this, drivers, trucking companies, and maintenance operations need to take measures to regularly maintain their fleet.
Failed equipment such as a cracked windshield or worn brake pads can lead to a major crash on the road. The truck driver is responsible for checking their rig before each driving shift. If they don’t do this or fail to maintain their equipment, they could be liable for an accident.
Failing to maintain a truck isn’t the only cause of equipment failure. Sometimes a critical piece of a truck’s equipment has a defect or was installed incorrectly. If it fails while a truck is at speed, the results could be fatal.
Some of the parties that could be held responsible in one of these situations include the designer or maker of the part. Other possibilities are the truck manufacturer, the installer, or the company that sold the truck.
When there is something in the road that isn’t supposed to be there, this can create dangerous conditions. Most states and municipalities conduct road improvement projects, but they have a duty to clearly mark any changes in the terrain or upcoming lanes. If there is a failure to do this and a road hazard causes a trucking accident, those road crews could be held responsible.
Bad weather is a trucker’s nightmare. It slows down traffic and progress and limits visibility. Unfortunately, it is also a common cause of truck accidents. When a truck is driving too fast for conditions, this can lead to jackknifing, hydroplaning, and skidding.
Improper Cargo Loading
There are industry-specific rules for loading cargo on commercial trucks. If these aren’t followed or if mistakes are made, a load can fall into the road or cause a truck to tip over, resulting in serious injury.
Speak with a Montgomery Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been involved in a collision with a truck, finding the right personal injury attorney can save you time, stress, and money. Your attorney should have a proven record of aggressively pursuing the responsible parties in truck accident cases and have the resources to fully investigate the circumstances of your crash.
At McPhillips Shinbaum, LLC, we have built a reputation for helping clients achieve favorable outcomes in personal injury cases. We will be your staunch legal advocates as we fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our Montgomery office now at 334.262.1911 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.