Important Facts You Need to Know about Trucking Accidents


March 11, 2015

Trucking accidents differ substantially from other motor vehicle accidents because of the disparity in weight between 18-wheelers and passenger cars. Although the trucking industry is subject to state and federal safety regulations, compliance with these regulations is sometimes sketchy because of the motivation to increase revenue. While the majority of truckers are pofessssionl and responsible, when truck drivers ignore hours of service rules and fudge entries in driver logbooks, they pose a significant danger to everyone else traveling our roads and highways. While large trucks constitute a relatively small percentage of the total traffic on Georgia roadways, crashes involving tractor-trailers are more likely to result in severe injuries or fatalities because of their immense size.

At Montlick & Associates, our Atlanta truck accident attorneys have represented and successfully helped thousands of people injured by negligent truckers and indifferent trucking companies get the compensation they deserve.  Below we have provided some key facts those who share the road with large trucks should know based on research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Trucking accident pose a more substantial risk to other drivers than passenger cars.

The NHTSA reports that large trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds are involved in 12 percent of all motor vehicle collisions although they only comprise 4 percent of all registered vehicles on U.S. roads. During a recent twelve month period commercial trucks were involved in 380,000 crashes that resulted in over 4,229 fatalities and 90,000 injuries.

The vast majority of the time deaths caused by trucking accident involve someone other than the truck driver.

When large trucks were involved in fatal accidents, the party who died was either an occupant of the other vehicle or a non-occupant, such as a pedestrian or bicyclist 84 percent of the time. The individual who dies in a fatal trucking accident is the occupant of the other vehicle 74 percent of the time and a nonoccupant 10 percent of the time.

Intoxicated truck drivers constitute less of a problem than alcohol impaired drivers of other vehicles.

While only two percent of drivers of large trucks had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over .08 percent during a crash, the percentage of drunk drivers of other types of vehicles involved in collisions was much higher. The percentage of drivers of other types of vehicles that were driving under the influence at the time of a fatal crash were as follows:

  • Passenger cars: 23 percent
  • Light trucks: 23 percent
  • Motorcycles: 29 percent

Drivers of commercial trucks were about half as likely to have had a previous license suspension as drivers of non-commercial vehicles.

These statistics suggest that most truck drivers value their commercial driver's license and generally avoid many forms of reckless conduct. However, there are financial pressures that can motivate drivers of tractor-trailers to violate other types of safety regulations or traffic laws, such as those dealing with hours of service, speeding, overloading trucks, use of stimulants and other risky practices that allow drivers to remain on the road. To some extent, this assumption is supported by the fact that 24 percent of all tractor-trailer drivers involved in fatal crashes had previously received a speeding ticket while only 18 percent of drivers of other vehicles involved in a fatal collision had received a speeding ticket.

The size and weight of trucks not only means a higher risk of serious injuries or fatalities but also an increased risk of a collision.

Because of the weight of tractor-trailers, they require more distance to stop, and they are less responsive when executing evasive maneuvers. These limitations make operating a large truck while fatigued or distracted particularly hazardous to others on the road. The length of commercial trucks also poses a serious risk because there are large blind spots called "no zones" adjacent to either side of the big rig. While all vehicles have blind spots that cannot be seen from a mirror, the area of such blind spots is greater when driving a commercial truck. Further, drivers of large truck also have blind spots immediate in front of the truck because of how high up they sit and immediately behind the big-rig.

Many two-vehicle collisions involving large trucks result from negligence by the truck driver or trucking company.

There are a range of unsafe driving practices and regulatory safety violations that might be committed by commercial truck drivers which can cause a serious trucking accident, such as:

  • Unsafe, reckless or aggressive driving practices
  • Lack of big-rig vehicle inspections and maintenance
  • Failure to observe hours of service rules (driver fatigue)
  • Excessive loads impacting handling and causing excessive wear on brakes and tires
  • Drug impaired driving
  • Compensation plans that encourage drivers to speed and ignore hours of service rules
  • Backing up without checking behind the semi-truck
  • Executing turns too sharply or too fast
  • Imbalanced loads that shift during transport disrupting handling of the truck
  • Failure of commercial carriers to ensure drivers are sufficiently trained
  • Improperly secured loads that fall into the roadway or on other vehicles
  • Trucking companies imposing unrealistic schedules for delivery of cargo

Trucking accidents present complex issues that make it important to insist on an experienced Atlanta trucking accident lawyer.

Trucking accidents present unique challenges to injury victims pursuing personal injury or wrongful death claims. When you are looking for legal representation, you want to screen law firms based on experience handling similar cases, so you get the best Atlanta trucking accident lawyer for your case. Some of the aspects of trucking accidents that complicate legal claims include:

  • Trucking companies anticipate such lawsuits, so they are prepared, well-funded and efficient at defending against claims.
  • An extensive regulatory framework must be thoroughly understood to evaluate liability.
  • The severe nature of trucking accident injuries mean that insurance companies fight these cases tenaciously.
  • Important evidence like driver logbooks or black box data might be falsified or manipulated, and the evidence must be preserved.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a truck or semi-truck accident, our experienced truck accident lawyers are here to help. Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Truck Accident Case!

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Sources:

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811158.pdf

Category: Truck Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.