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Causes of Commercial Trucking Accidents

Posted February 10, 2015 | Truck

Trucking accidents may arises due to a variety of unsafe circumstances, conditions and behaviors.  Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:

truckDUI / Drugs / Alcohol –  Its common knowledge that driving while impaired due to alcohol and drugs can alter perception, cognitive behavior, coordination and attention that is needed for safe driving.  A semi or large commercial truck speeding down a road with an impaired truck driver behind the wheel is a frightening accident waiting to happen.  If a commercial truck driver injures or kills a person while they have alcohol or drugs in their system, a claimant can seek punitive damages for the gross negligence and recklessness.

  • Truck Driver Fatigue – According to the Department truck driver fatigue is a leading factor of the roughly 4,000 fatal large truck accidents that occur each year.  Driver fatigue can be caused by any number of reasons, including lack of sleep, driving too many hours without adequate time off, driving too many consecutive hours and pressure to deliver loads.

In response to the epidemic of truck drivers working while tired and fatigued, in December of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a new rule to stop fatigued driving.   The rule was generally comprised of two new requirements.  One, drivers must take a 30-minute rest break within the first 8 hours of their shift so they can stay alert on the road; and drivers are required “restart” once every seven days.  Under the 34 hour restart rule a driver is required to have at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.  The purpose these changes was to reduce the average maximum week a driver could work from 82 hours to 70 hours.

  • Truck Tire Blowouts / Tread Burn – Tire blow outs are a common cause of truck accidents.  Many times tire failure on a semi, big rig, or 18-wheeler truck results from the trucker drivers negligent failure to do careful inspection and make needed repairs.  A truck’s tires are a critical part of its equipment.  Before a truck driver starts a job, whether it will be a long distance haul or short trip, the tires should be inspected.  Some of the most common tire issues experienced by truck drivers include: 1. Burnt treads (tread burn) 2. Tread separation  3. Tire blowouts  4. Under-inflated tires   5. Bent Rims and 6. Overheated tires.
  • Poor Truck Maintenance – Truck accidents caused by inadequate truck maintenance are usually preventable. It is the responsibility of commercial truck drivers and trucking businesses to ensure that their commercial trucks.  All commercial truck drivers must follow the regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  These regulations mandate that trucks must undergo a series of inspections to ensure vehicle safety before a driver starts a job. It is negligent for trucking carriers that knowingly fail to maintain their vehicles properly.
  • Speeding Trucks – When a huge truck is barrelling down the road at a high speed it is a terrifying accident accident waiting to happen as large trucks cannot turn or stop as quickly as smaller vehicles on the road.  The US Department of Labor data shows that large trucks exceeding the speed limit was a factor in 22 percent of the fatal crashes.
  • Aggressive Driving – Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on highways and Philadelphia roads.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”  This includes driving behaviors such as following too closely, unsafe lane changes and speeding which can be hazardous to truck drivers and other vehicles using the road.
  • Overloaded Trucks or Trailers – A truck has a maximum design weight which is known as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The GVWR rating can never be more than the combined ratings of all of the truck’s axles, usually the GVWR is less.  A number of factors, including allowances for various load placements, frame rating, powertrain rating, suspension component ratings, and the foundation brake rating, can impact the GVWR of a truck.

If a truck is overloaded with cargo is may cause a danger for other vehicles on the road as the items could fall off the truck.

  • Inadequate Reflective Tape – Many truck accidents occur at night as a result of inadequate or insufficient reflective tape, which does not allow the truck to be easily seen by other vehicles.
  • Improperly Loaded Trucks / Loads that Shift Weight –  An overloaded or improperly loaded truck can cause a catastrophic accident on the road.  Overloaded trucks, or trucks that are not loaded according to federal regulations, can cause a serious semi-truck accident in a number of ways. For example, the load could add extra weight to an already over-sized truck causing top-heaviness and increasing the risk of jackknifing or overturning around curves. The cargo in overloaded or improperly-loaded trucks is more likely to shift while in motion.  When trucks are improperly loaded, cargo is more likely to fall off, leaving debris to rest in the roadway, or even falling directly onto another vehicle.
  • Faulty Brakes – This is rare, as trucks have two separate braking systems, but it does occasionally occur because of improper maintenance, installation, or overuse of the brakes. In addition, if the truck is not properly loaded, additional pressure is put on the braking system.  An air brake malfunction may occur when a driver applies too much pressure to the brakes when traveling downhill.
  • Under-Ride – Under ride can be the most devastating type of truck accident and is the cause of the most fatalities.  Under ride occurs when a smaller automobile collides with  a truck and, due to the difference in height, continues under the truck as the top of the car is sheared off.  Under ride may cause decapitation of passenger vehicle and sometimes extreme head trauma.

Federal Truck Loading Laws

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented a number of specific truck loading laws that must be followed by all Philadelphia, Pennsylvania truck drivers and trucking companies. The purpose of these federal trucking regulations is to reduce the number of truck accidents that are caused by shifting cargo or falling debris from commercial vehicles operating in interstate commerce. These regulations include:

  • Cargo that is likely to roll must be restrained by wedges, chocks, or cradles
  • Cargo must be firmly secured on or within a vehicle by structures equipped to hold it, including dunnage or dunnage bags; tiedowns; and shoring bars
  • Specific minimum requirements for truck tiedown restraints
  • Commodity-specific Securement Requirements (such as logs, heavy vehicles, metal coils, concrete pipe, and automobiles)
  • Special Purpose Vehicle requirements (vehicles carrying items such as heavy machinery, crane booms, steel or concrete beams, and other objects that require special restraining systems)

IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT WITH A COMMERCIAL VEHICLE

Truck accident lawyer Brent Wieand can help.  He is experienced in determining the factual cause of trucking accident based on the details and a thorough examination of the evidence and witness interviews.  Brent will work closely with trucking experts to sort through all the details of the crash uncover any violations and negligence on the part of the truck driver and trucking company.

Proving truck driver negligence is no easy task for someone without years of experience successfully handling complex truck and motor vehicle accident cases. Fortunately, Brent has the legal knowledge and experience to win tough trucking accident cases.  He knows the tricks insurance companies use to try and settle with truck accident victims for drastically less money than they deserve and won’t stop fighting until you are fully compensated for the harm caused.

Never negotiate with an insurance company, trucking company or truck owner before speaking to an experienced attorney.  Upon representation, Brent Wieand will immediately start an investigation and begin preserving evidence needed to prove your case case.  He is experienced with laws that trucking companies need to follow and can often immediately determine if the driver or trucking company was in violation of federal or state regulations when the trucking accident occurred.  After a careful investigation into the unique circumstances of your accident, Brent will zealously represent your claim and hold the  parties at fault accountable for the injuries and harm caused by their negligent or reckless driving.

If you are a loved one was a victim of a commercial truck accident, call trial attorney, Brent Wieand, at (267) 443-8487, him online to arrange for a completely free and confidential legal consultation.

NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF A COMMERCIAL TRUCK OPERATOR

Truck drivers can be considered negligent when they fail to operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. Whether or not a truck driver was negligent in causing a serious injury or fatal crash is often based on evidence as to whether the accident could have been prevented had it not been for inaction, distracted driving, disregard for safety rules, or oversight.

Unfortunately, truck driver negligence occurs in many forms. Some of the most common types of truck driver negligence include:

  • Distracted driving;
  • Texting or using a cell phone while driving;
  • Reckless or aggressive driving practices;
  • Violation of Hours-of-Service (HOS);
  • Speeding;
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
  • Failure to inspect the truck before driving;
  • Failure to report necessary repairs or maintenance;
  • Failure to stop or control the truck;
  • Failure to use turn signals;
  • Overloading the truck; and
  • Improperly securing cargo.

For a free and friendly no obligation consultation, call Brent Wieand, an experienced Philadelphia commercial trucking accident lawyer that works on a contingency fee at (877) 654-3887.

Brent practices throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He is proud to serve Southeastern Pennsylvania including Berks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, as well as the New Jersey areas of Pennsauken, Gloucester and Camden NJ.