Causes Of Truck Accidents
Accidents involving tractor trailers can be caused by any number of factors, but some of the key elements of fault that we, as tractor-trailer accident attorneys, evaluate in assessing a legal case against the driver and/or his employer, include the following:
- Drug or Alcohol Use
- Truck Driver Fatigue and/or Violation of Hours of Service
- Aggressive Driving/Maneuvering
- Excessive or Unsecured Loads
- Equipment Failure or Malfunction (e.g. breaks, signals, etc.)
- Excessive Speed
- Unsafe Following Distance (leaving inadequate breaking distance)
- Distracted Driving (e.g. texting while driving)
- Driver Negligence (turning too fast, turning too wide, failing to check blind spots, etc.)
- Inadequate Driver Training or Screening by Employer
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a truck accident, anywhere in the states of West Virginia or Pennsylvania, and you believe that the truck driver was at fault for causing the accident, please give us a call today for a free evaluation of your claim - (304) 381-2166 or fill out our contact form on the left of this page.
Truck Accidents Are Distinct From A Typical Car Accident
There are stark differences between the training it takes to operate a semi and what it takes to operate a passenger vehicle. While you and I can get a license to drive a car by taking a quick test and answering a few questions, drivers of large trucks and tractor trailers are held to much higher training standards and licensing requirements. As a result tractor trailer and other commercial truck drivers receive rigorous training and are some of the most experienced and highly qualified on the highways. Since we all need to use the roads safely, you should be aware that operating a passenger vehicle safely amongst large tractor trailers requires a few special safety precautions. Most passenger vehicle drivers are unaware of three special driving situations that are unique to large tractor trailers that cause the majority of tractor trailer accidents involving passenger vehicles.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles. The administration reports that over 9% of the fatalities in accidents involving a truck and a passenger vehicles are to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. Each year over 400,000 crashes involve tractor trailers and over 5000 people are killed. Surprisingly, as many as 70% of the fatalities are the result of accidents that are caused inadvertently by passenger vehicles operators not truck drivers.
One significant difference between a tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle lies in the braking. While the braking system in a passenger vehicle engages instantaneously by pressing on the brake pedal, the hydraulic system in a tractor trailer's air brakes take approximately 1.5 seconds to reach the rearmost tires. This delay results in it taking a tractor trailer two to three times the time and distance to stop than it takes a passenger vehicle. You will often see a tractor trailer driving a safe distance behind a vehicle, only to be cut off by a passenger vehicle that passes the truck and then cuts in between the car and the truck, reducing the distance between the back of the car and the front of the truck by as much as two thirds. What was one second a safe distance with the tractor trailer well behind the automobile in front of it has now become inadequate and there is no way the truck could stop in time to avoid rear-ending the car that cut him off. For your safety, be aware that when you pass a tractor trailer, do not be in a hurry to leave the passing lane until you have cleared a safe distance in front of the truck, a distance at least as great as the length of the tractor trailer itself. This way if everyone has to reduce their speed, the tractor trailer behind you will be able to do so safely.
Another safety hazard that causes accidents between tractor trailers and passenger vehicles is passing a tractor trailer on the right. As a rule of thumb, don't ever pass a truck on the right as there is a blind spot the entire length of the right-hand side of the trailer. The tractor trailer driver can't see you, and if he is switching from the left lane to the right lane as you are attempting to pass on the right, he could drive your vehicle off the road, crush you between the side of the truck and the guard rail or literally run over top of you. If you pass a tractor trailer on the right you are flipping a coin as to whether or not you will have a collision. There's no other way to describe it. Don't do it.
The third potentially hazardous situation that the driver of a passenger vehicle needs to be aware of is when a truck making a right-hand turn at an intersection. In order for a truck to make a right turn at an intersection, it first has to navigate the entire tractor trailer into the left-hand lane in order to get the amount of clearance needed because of the length of the trailer. Impatient drivers, seeing the empty right lane attempt to pass the truck on the right and can get crushed by the rear set of tires on the trailer.
The Importance Of Consulting With A Competent Truck Accident Lawyer
As a result of the catastrophic injuries a tractor trailer can cause, tractor trailer operators are not only required to have extensive training, but also are held to a higher reporting and record keeping standard than operators of passenger vehicles. Both tractor trailer operators and the companies they represent are held to a much higher safety standard than operators of passenger vehicles and they are required by law to document their travels by keeping strict and accurate records. If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, there is critical data that the company operating the truck is required to keep and it's imperative that we gather that evidence immediately in order to build the strongest possible case for you and against the commercial trucking company and driver. It is also thus imperative that you consult with a lawyer who is well versed in handling tractor-trailer accidents, to ensure that all of the proper information is collected. Please call us today for a free consultation, as our attorneys have the experience and expertise in handling and maximizing recoveries in all aspects of truck and commercial vehicle accidents resulting in serious injuries or death - (304) 381-2166