Most commercial trucks are driven for thousands of miles to deliver necessary products to different locations. Most drivers spend a lot of hours on the road as well and get exhausted. A truck accident can result in significant injuries to the persons involved, damage of property, and in some cases, death. Truck accidents are frequently reported in Florida and can be as a result of various causes. Regardless of the reason, an injury or damage to property can be devastating to those involved. If you are involved or your loved one is involved in a truck accident, you need to seek legal counsel on how to proceed. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we can offer you excellent legal representation in this case.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Commercial truck accidents can be caused by a variety of things, with some being more common than others. Here, we shall discuss the various common causes of truck accidents as well as ways a driver can avoid them where possible.
Driver fatigue is a serious and common cause of accidents on the roads. The problem is so significant that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a warning to the public on how severe truck driver fatigue is. Many truck drivers drive for many miles and several days. Besides, most truck drivers receive their payment based on the distance they cover. Most truck companies also offer incentives to drivers that drive for long hours.
These incentives are tempting to the driver, making them ignore the regulations by the federal law on when to take breaks and the number of hours one can drive. This causes drivers to operate even when they are exhausted. An exhausted driver can fall asleep while driving, can be impaired, or lack the mindfulness required on the road. Because of this, they can easily cause accidents that result in significant damages and injuries.
Lack of Proper Maintenance
There are federal regulations on the need to keep trucks adequately maintained. Lack of proper maintenance can result in severe accidents on the road. It is essential to ensure that the braking system of trucks is working in optimum conditions, and the tires are not worn out. Additionally, the engine of the truck must also be well maintained at all times. Before the commencement of a trip, there should be a proper inspection of the trucks by a qualified and experienced mechanic.
Distraction is another serious concern for motorists. A truck driver can get distracted and forget to focus on the road. Distractions can be from using a cell phone while driving or any other stimuli such as working on the radio, drinking, eating, finding an address from GPS, or any other distraction. These things can cause the driver to have divided attention that can result in an accident.
The law prohibits truck drivers from using cell phones while driving due to the level of distraction they cause. Most drivers easily get distracted because of the boredom they experience in driving for long distances. They see something exciting, and their mind is diverted there. This makes them become inattentive on the road and can easily cause accidents.
This is a common reason for truck accidents. Some drivers lack experience or have inadequate training in driving big trucks. This becomes a problem because they lack the know-how of controlling them when they are faced with an emergency on the road. Some companies offer to pay to have the drivers trained. However, immediately they complete the training, they give them big trucks to drive without building their experience first. Some of these drivers are unfamiliar with the truck they are given and find it challenging to maneuver it.
Most employers find inexperienced drivers more appealing because their wages are lower than for the more experienced ones. Unfortunately, when these drivers cause accidents, the cost is higher than what they saved on payments. Lack of experience is a significant factor in trucking accidents today.
Improper loading can come from either overloading the truck or wrong distribution of the weight of the cargo. When an employer hires inexperienced loaders or packers, they do not understand the need to distribute the weight evenly throughout the truck. When the weight of the load is not distributed adequately, it becomes difficult to maneuver the truck, especially on corners or when faced with a sudden emergency. This is dangerous as it can lead to serious truck accidents.
Some trucking companies are unethical and want to overload a truck so that they maximize their profits. Exceeding the recommended load weight a truck can carry is also dangerous and a common cause of trucking accidents. Every truck comes with the recommended load weight. It is safer to load it with less weight than to overload it. Controlling an overloaded truck can be a challenge that, in many cases, results in accidents.
Speed kills, no wonder people are discouraged from speeding or over speeding on the roads. When a driver operates their truck at high speed, it can be impossible to control it when faced with an emergency. Some drivers want incentives from their employers or to get more pay because they cover more miles they opt to speed. This is very dangerous to themselves as well as the other road users. When trucks come to a sudden corner or face an unforeseen emergency, they try to engage their brakes, but due to the high speed, this many times fail.
Truck drivers are encouraged to drive at the recommended speed where they have control of the truck. They should be able to come to a smooth stop when faced with a sudden emergency, even as they keep a reasonable distance from the other cars.
Recklessness has been a significant cause of road accidents from small vehicles to larger ones. Truck drivers can also be careless on the road. Some of these drivers can be bullies on the road without being considerate of the other road users. They change lanes carelessly, ignore road signs, and tailgate other motorists. This kind of behavior is responsible for many truck accidents today. Truck drivers are encouraged to be mindful of other road users and traffic rules to avoid these accidents.
Various weather conditions can contribute to truck accidents. When it rains heavily, roads can become slippery, making the truck lose their grip on the road. Rain is one of the significant causes of truck accidents. This is enhanced when the tires of the truck are worn out, reducing the expected grip of the road.
Storms are also a contributor to truck accidents. Not only do they affect the grip of the tires and cause trucks to slide off the road, but the visibility of the driver is also affected. When a driver cannot see where they are going, they can quickly meet unexpected obstacles or problems, and before they can control their truck, an accident occurs. When a driver knows about an approaching storm or heavy rain, it is better to stop and let it pass instead of moving under such dangerous conditions.
Icy roads are also dangerous for trucks. When the ways have ice, they are slippery, and if not careful, trucks will slide off the road. Driving at moderate speeds will help avoid these accidents.
Sometimes a truck driver is not responsible for a truck accident. Trucks can have mechanical problems that were not anticipated. A part of the truck can break down or be faulty when the driver is on the road. This can cause serious challenges in controlling the truck leading to an accident. Some vehicle parts can also be defective from the manufacturers that, when fitted on the truck, they cause more harm than good. Truck owners are encouraged to buy spare parts from reputable manufacturers and have reliable mechanics to install them as well.
Regulations require a thorough check of trucks before they commence a trip. The steering wheel is another common area to be checked. If it locks, it may mean the driver cannot turn the truck. The engine must also be checked to ensure it is running optimally to avoid mishaps on the road.
Trucks have significant blind spots that the drivers must familiarize themselves with. Some of the blind spots a driver must take note of are:
- Behind the window on the driver’s side
- At the cab front
- The right-hand side of the vehicle
- Behind the area for storage and the driver
Blind spots pose considerable safety risks. A driver must make sure to use mirrors at all times to see other approaching vehicles on the blind spots. When changing lanes, it is essential to make use of the mirrors as well to avoid changing lanes when another vehicle is in the vicinity. Failing to make proper use of the mirrors is dangerous and can result in many accidents on the road.
Medical Conditions of a Driver
Sometimes a driver may be suffering from a medical condition that does not allow them to be on the road for long hours. They neglect to disclose this because it can make them lose their jobs and believe they can manage. The medicine they take can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or get them fatigued, yet they stay on the road being a danger to themselves and other road users.
Obesity is another condition that is common among truck drivers. When a person is obese, many other diseases come up that affect how the driver operates the truck. One of the conditions is sleep apnea. This condition causes the person suffering from it to stop breathing temporarily in their sleep. This causes the person to be sluggish, fatigued, and unable to focus on the road. Drivers suffering from this condition can sleep on the wheel and end up causing serious accidents.
High blood pressure, diabetes, or heart diseases are other common conditions among truck drivers due to their lifestyle. If one is suffering from these diseases and does not take care of themselves properly, it can lead to strokes. Sometimes a stroke can happen while one is driving. This is very dangerous and will lead to an accident most times.
Drivers of smaller passenger vehicles
Sometimes drivers of smaller vehicles are responsible for accidents involving commercial trucks. Most average car drivers ignore the performance of the truck and its capabilities, such as visibility, braking, acceleration, among others. Because of this ignorance, the drivers commit several mistakes that will result in truck accidents. Some of these acts they commit include:
- Regular car drivers can decide to drive on the no-zone areas. These are the areas where the truck driver has little if no visibility at all. They assume the truck driver is able to see them when they are unable to. When the truck driver decides to change lanes, he or she can easily knock the car driver, not out of carelessness, but because they did not see them. Standard vehicle drivers need to understand that trucks have significant blind spot areas and need to be cautious when driving near them.
- Some drivers of regular cars assume trucks accelerate and brake like them. Because of this, they can abruptly change lanes when driving in front of the truck. The truck driver may fail to reduce their speed on time to allow the other driver to join the lane and ends up hitting them.
- Underestimating the speed of trucks also causes the regular vehicle drivers to maneuver on the right where the truck is also turning right. They assume they can do it before the truck and forget the angle the truck has to take at the same time. This often leads to a crash between the regular vehicle and the truck that can have serious repercussions.
- Sometimes regular vehicle drivers misjudge the speed at which a truck is approaching. They make a left turn at an intersection after assuming the truck is moving at a slow rate. Unfortunately, the truck driver needs a significant distance to apply the brakes, and because there is none, he ends up crashing into the vehicle.
- Improper merging into traffic can cause a truck driver to struggle to maneuver the truck or brake suddenly. This is dangerous and can result in a crash between the truck and the car or other motorists.
- A regular car driver may underestimate the truck's speed and fail to accelerate or slow down when a truck tries to merge or change lanes. Again this is another cause of accidents on the roads between trucks and regular vehicles.
- Because of assuming the functionality of a truck, smaller cars tend to pass where they have insufficient headway. This can easily get them knocked by the truck. Sometimes they also pull into traffic ahead of the truck and fail to sufficiently accelerate. Other times they drive in between two trucks and can easily be crashed as a result.
Roads can be hazardous to motorists. Potholes cause some accidents on the road or broken cement. If a truck was speeding and hit an unexpected pothole, it can easily lose balance and swerve to the side, hitting other vehicles or rolling over. While driving on unfamiliar roads, truck drivers need to maintain safety by driving at moderate speed. This will help them be able to control the trucks if hazards on the way find them.
Failing to Comply with Trucking Regulations
Various regulations exist that guide the operations of trucks. For instance, truck drivers are supposed to drive for a certain number of hours, make certain breaks and sleep for specific hours in the least. Many drivers and trucking companies ignore these regulations and end up causing accidents that could have been avoided.
Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense. When a driver is drunk, it means they are not in full control of their bodies and mind. Driving while impaired is risky on the roads, and that is why there are strict laws regarding the same. A commercial driver arrested for drunk driving faces more severe penalties as compared to a regular driver. The law provides for the acceptable alcohol limit in a driver’s blood system.
Going beyond the legal limit can mean the driver is not safe to be on the road. This is illegal since the driver is not only a danger to themselves but to other road users. Some drivers believe that they have control over their alcohol intake and can control the truck when drunk. This belief is a misconception that has led to multiple truck accidents In Florida.
Drivers can also be intoxicated from prescription or over the counter drugs. If a driver is suffering from a particular condition, it is crucial to seek medical attention and understand the medication given. If the doctor tells you that the drugs are likely to cause drowsiness, avoid driving when you have consumed them. Medicines can also cause impairment and affect judgment while on the road. Buying over the counter drugs that you do not understand their effects is too dangerous. Always seek to know the side effects of drugs and how they can affect your driving.
Illicit or narcotics are also other drugs that can cause impairment on the road. The law prohibits a driver from driving while under the influence o f banned substances or drugs. Narcotics are known to cause impairment, and driving while on them can lead to serious accidents. Some drivers, to cope with the long hours, find themselves taking these drugs. Impaired driving is a dangerous practice that is a significant contributor to many road accidents.
Many trucking companies may not directly contribute to truck accidents, but they are a significant contributor. When trucking companies do not follow the laid down regulations, such as ensuring that the trucks are always well maintained, they indirectly contribute to the accidents.
Some trucking companies out of greed keep unrealistic schedules that they pass on to their drivers. Some of them demand a driver to operate the truck for longer hours than is legally acceptable by providing them with incentives. This behavior leads to driver fatigue, as discussed earlier, and may result in significant accidents.
Some companies also design compensation systems that favor faster drivers. This encourages drivers to move at unnecessary speeds to qualify for the incentives. As a result, the drivers over speed and find it difficult to control their truck when faced with an emergency on the road.
Some companies, to cut down on costs and maximize profits, fail to invest in training programs for the drivers. Drivers need to have periodic training on various techniques and defensive driving. This training increases the safety of the drivers and other motorists on the road.
Trucking companies are also responsible for doing due diligence on a driver before offering them employment. Some companies do not concern themselves with the experience of the driver and their record. On many occasions, they release unworthy or poorly trained drivers on the road that are a risk to other road users and themselves.
In a nutshell, trucking companies have the responsibility for maintaining trucks, following the federal regulations as well as hiring drivers.
Liability in Trucking Accidents
Accidents involving trucks can cause severe property damage as well as significant bodily harm and, in some cases, fatality. Victims of truck accidents can suffer substantial financial losses in medical treatment or property damage.
As discussed above, there are numerous causes of truck accidents from the driver’s negligence, to other motorists and the trucking company as well. When an accident happens, a party must be responsible for it. Investigations are always carried out to determine what caused the accident or who did, and the right party is punished or held accountable for it. The law permits victims of truck accidents to seek compensation for their injuries or damages.
Various entities can be held accountable for the accident. In some cases, the city is held responsible if the accident was as a result of poor road conditions or any other cause the city is responsible for. Truck companies can also be liable for trucking accidents as well as small car owners.
Apportioned liability in accidents makes it essential for each motorist to adhere to the traffic rules and regulations. Anyone can be found at fault, depending on the circumstances or facts of the accident.
Find a Clay County Truck Accident Lawyer Near Me
Trucking accidents are common in Florida and can result in severe damages to property and injuries. For this reason, a victim of the accident can institute a lawsuit to seek compensation for the losses incurred. Insurance companies will not readily compensate victims but will find reasons to either delay or offer the minimum amount in compensation. For this reason, a victim needs a lawyer to help them get the rightful compensation at the right time. At Clay County Personal Injury Attorney, we have extensive experience in recovering damages from truck accidents. Call our office today at 904-494-8242 and let us help you get compensated.