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Truck accidents can be devastating events that cause severe injuries and even death. Understanding the common causes of serious truck crashes can help drivers stay safe on the roads. This article will examine the leading contributors to catastrophic truck collisions and provide advice for accident victims on seeking help after these incidents.

Driver Fatigue

One of the most prevalent factors in life-threatening truck crashes is driver fatigue. Operating an 80,000 pound big rig requires intense concentration and alertness. Yet truckers often face schedules that make adequate rest difficult.

The temptation to drive excessive hours without sleep breaks is strong in a business where time is money. However, drowsy driving dramatically increases the chances of a truck driver causing a serious crash. Fatigued drivers experience slower reaction times, reduced vigilance, and deficits in information processing that make them a danger on the road.

Trucking companies and drivers must make smart decisions to avoid driving while overtired. Adhering to Hours of Service regulations, taking regular sleep breaks, and maintaining healthy sleep habits can help avert catastrophic collisions caused by exhausted truckers.

Speeding and Aggressive Driving

Another preventable behavior that elevates the risk of devastating truck crashes is speeding and aggressive driving. Outweighing passenger vehicles by 20-30 times, big rigs require much greater stopping distances. Higher speeds dramatically reduce a trucker’s ability to avoid collisions in an emergency.

Aggressive behaviors like tailgating, unsafe passing, failure to signal lane changes, and weaving through traffic also endanger everyone sharing the road with a truck. These actions betray poor judgment and lack of concern for safety.

Truck drivers must drive patiently and professionally, obeying speed limits and allowing plenty of following distance. Responsible driving can significantly reduce truck accidents and save lives.

Distracted Driving

Today’s high-tech cabs present truckers with many potential distractions, including cell phones, onboard computers, GPS systems, and entertainment options. Focusing attention on anything other than driving substantially raises the possibility of a truck driver causing a serious or fatal collision.

Texting and phone calls take a driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. Fiddling with music or adjusting a GPS diverts attention. Truckers must resist the urge to multitask behind the wheel. Turning off devices, planning routes ahead of time, and pulling over to deal with issues can help avoid distracted driving and possible devastating accidents.

Poor Maintenance

The complex mechanical systems of heavy trucks require vigilant maintenance to operate safely. Yet time pressures lead some trucking companies and drivers to cut corners on servicing vehicles. Running trucks without performing proper repairs dramatically increases the chance of catastrophic failures like brake loss, tire blowouts, or loose cargo.

Trucking operators need to follow thorough preventative maintenance schedules and address any mechanical issues immediately. Conducting pre-trip inspections and enlisting qualified mechanics helps keep trucks in safe functioning order, preventing horrible breakdown-related crashes.

Cargo Issues

Loading issues and improperly secured cargo loads on big rigs also trigger terrible truck collisions. Improperly balanced, shifted, or overloaded trailer contents change vehicle handling and increase rollover risk. Unsecured cargo falling onto the road creates major hazards for other motorists.

Meticulous adherence to safe loading and cargo securing procedures helps avoid loss of control or falling object accidents. Truck drivers must confirm appropriate weight limits and distributions. Loaders must properly tie down all trailer contents. Regular cargo checks during a trip provide an added layer of safety.

Environmental Factors

Hazards like poor visibility, slick roads, and severe weather also contribute to devastating truck crashes despite the best efforts of drivers and trucking companies. Fog, blinding sunshine, snow, rain, and smoke diminish visibility for truckers and other drivers, heightening the risk of collisions.

Rain and snow reduce road traction and increase required stopping distances for loaded big rigs. Wind gusts may force trucks into dangerous overcorrections. Construction zones and poorly maintained roads also elevate accident risks.

Staying vigilant to weather and environmental conditions allows truckers to take added precautions and reduce speed as appropriate in hazardous situations. However, other motorists need to be mindful of these issues as well and be prepared to avoid tractor trailers in challenging environments.

Driver Inexperience

The inherently complex and demanding nature of operating an 18-wheeler means lack of experience also plays a role in catastrophic truck crashes. Rookie truck drivers, even after earning a commercial license, lack the skills to respond to emergencies, judge stopping distances, and manage the size of their vehicles.

Trucking companies carry heavy responsibility to thoroughly train novice drivers before placing them behind the wheel solo. They must also pair new drivers with experienced mentors during their initiation to the open road. This helps develop the advanced skills and safety mindset needed to avert tragedy.

Driver Health Issues

Physical and mental health challenges truckers face also contribute to devastating collisions. Chronic medical conditions and acute illnesses affect driver performance. Psychological issues like depression, stress, and anxiety degrade focus. Drug abuse or prescription medication side effects also compromise road safety.

Trucking companies need to assess driver health and consider regular medical evaluations. They should provide access to behavioral assistance programs. Drivers must commit to addressing identified health problems, abstaining from illegal drug use, and considering temporary driving hiatus when facing acute issues. This responsibility is necessary to keep roads safe.

Seeking Help After a Serious Truck Accident

Coping with the aftermath of a catastrophic truck collision often requires outside help. Trucking companies and their insurance representatives work diligently to avoid liability, even when truckers are clearly at fault. Those injured in a crash and survivors of victims killed often turn to personal injury lawyers for assistance.

An experienced attorney understands how to navigate the complex legal aftermath  of truck accidents. They work to prove liability and maximize financial awards to cover medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering damages. For those whose lives are changed forever by serious truck crashes, contacting us at Pencheff & Fraley Co. is advised to protect one’s rights.

You can visit our offices at:

  • Westerville – 4151 Executive Pkwy, Suite 355, Westerville, OH 43081
  • Mansfield – 33 S. Lexington-Springmill Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906

Or call now for a free consultation on (614) 224-4114.

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