truck accidents

Traffic stalled for hours near Cle Elum, Washingon on Monday following a truck accident. A semi-truck hit two cars, crushing part of one and causing the other to spin into a safety fence.

The investigation determined the truck driver didn’t see the Toyota traveling beside him as he moved into the right lane. The semi also hit another compact vehicle, a Mini Cooper, causing it to leave the roadway as well.

The collision killed one person, critically injured another, and seriously hurt two more. Eastbound traffic lanes were backed up for several hours after the crash, and had to reclose later in the evening to make permanent repairs to a power line.

Big Wheels Keep on Rollin’ – Truck Accident Statistics

Thousands of people die every year in auto accidents that involve colliding with a semi-truck. These accidents often lead to expensive insurance claims and recovery for injuries as well as fatalities. It’s a common assumption that big trucks are usually at fault because of their size; however, statistics prove otherwise. There are fewer accidents in large trucks than any other type of vehicle on the road. However, the studies also indicate that accidents between large trucks and passenger cars result in a higher rate of fatalities.  This is mostly due to the fact that manufacturers don’t design passenger vehicles to withstand the force and impact of a vehicle many times its weight and size.

There are a number of reasons auto accidents occur.  Some of the common causes of semi-truck accidents include:

Driver Fatigue

Studies by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) show drowsiness as a contributing factor in some large vehicle auto accidents, even has high as 50%.

Driving when tired is a very dangerous condition for anyone behind the wheel. If the vehicle has 18 wheels, it could be catastrophic for smaller motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Long-hauls, especially on freeways and open roads, can be monotonous for many truck drivers. Late afternoon and early morning hours are the peak times for fatigue accidents. It’s important for truck and car drivers to avoid the mistake of driving when they start to feel lethargic. Stopping at least every 2 hours helps to keep drivers alert and attentive on their journeys.

Signs of Fatigue when Driving:

  • Yawning, day-dreaming, or wandering in the lane of travel
  • Unintentionally speeding up or slowing down
  • Feeling stiff and/or eyes are heavy
  • Day-dreaming or losing focus on the road
  • Wandering over the center line or near the edge of the road
  • You can’t remember the last few miles, or minutes of travel

Taking a few minutes for a break can save a life! Read more on how driver fatigue is a primary cause of road crashes.

Distracted Driving and Auto Accidents

Distracted driving is an issue for ALL drivers. Many states have enacted distracted driving laws and readily enforce them. This has helped to make driving conditions safer for everyone. Check out this article on the new Distracted Driving Law in Washington state.

People know truck drivers for their banter over the airways.  While radios help drivers stay in tune with local conditions and terrain, they have inadvertently become a cell phone. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines “distracted driving” for truck drivers as using a cell phone for anything other than contacting law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

State laws and regulations do vary in their hand-held mobile phone laws, yet the FMCSA regulations apply to all truck drivers, regardless of location, to prevent this type of distracted driving.

Driver Inexperience and Commercial Truck Accidents

Commercial truck drivers must be properly licensed and trained to operate large trucks in a variety of weather conditions, construction zones, heavy traffic, and terrain. Many hire on to trucking companies that pay the new employees training and driving school fees and immediately put them on the road. An inexperienced driver may forget to check tire pressure, secure a load, make sure maintenance logs and checks are up to date, or get enough rest between hauls.

The trucking industry revolves around meeting deadlines. In some respects, that’s probably not much different than someone who is running late for work or heading to their kid’s activities.

“While there are some varying conditions when you compare passenger vehicle crashes to those involving large trucks, there is an overwhelming abundance of similarities related to driver behavior.  According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), speeding was the top driver-related factor in crashes involving large trucks, followed by distraction/inattention, and impairment (e.g., fatigue, alcohol, illness, etc.). Obviously, we have a long way to go to ensure road safety. Driver behavior is still the biggest variable. In fact, NHTSA’s 2008 National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey found that 93% of all vehicle crashes are caused by human error.” Learn more about driver behavior, fleet safety, and auto accident fatality rates.

Safety for Truck Drivers: When the road IS your office

“The best way we can make our workplace – the open road – safer is to make driving safer for everyone, and the best way we can do that is through education like ATA’s Share the Road Program and enforcement of traffic laws aimed at reducing dangerous behaviors,” said Sean McNally, vice-president of the American Trucking Association.

Most state and federal government agencies promote large truck safety, but the truth is that ALL motorists–passenger vehicles and large truck drivers-need to be considerate of each other, follow the rules of the road better, and remember to “share the road.”  We all benefit from having a safer trucking industry–especially as our national economy and livelihoods rely on them bringing goods and services to every corner of the country.

The Road to Recovery

No one ever plans on being in a motor vehicle collision, but if you or someone you love have sustained a personal injury in a car or truck accident, Fielding Law Group can help get the compensation you need to get your life back on the road. Contact us for a free consultation today. Don’t let an accident wreck you!