There are over 130,000injuries in the United States of accidents involving trucks. Each year 5,000 deaths occur and nearly 35% of the injuries are catastrophic. Trucks over 10,000 pounds (semis and tractor-trailer) represent only 3% of all registered vehicles, but are responsible for over 25% of vehicle related deaths. Most truck accidents result from errors made by truck drivers. Truck drivers who are impaired either by alcohol, sleep deprivation, or use of prescription medication may make poor judgments, take unnecessary risks, and may be unable to react to the dangers on the roadways. It is also very important that truck drivers not drive too fast, de-powering the front brakes, and improperly load the cargo, because these factors may contribute to an accident.
Why Driver Errors Occur
According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers of large trucks are ten times more likely to be the cause of trucking accidents than other factors like weather, road conditions, and vehicle performance.
The study by FMCSA also determined that the factors causing truck drivers to make errors are the use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, speeding, fatigue, negligence, distractions, work environment, and unfamiliarity with the road. The study revealed the following:
- 44% of truck drivers involved in truck accidents were taking prescription and over-the-counter-drugs.
- 23% of drivers involved in truck accidents were driving too fast.
- 18% of truck accidents were caused by driver fatigue.
Driver Errors Contributing to Trucking Accidents
Truck drivers who are feeling fatigued may fall asleep, be negligent, misjudge gaps, ignore signs of impending danger, panic, freeze, and overreact to a situation. Although fatigue is a common cause of truck accidents; it is also the most preventable one. According to the rules set by Federal regulations, truck drivers should get necessary rest and restorative sleep in order to drive safely. Truck drivers can work a maximum of 14 hours per day, and drive for a maximum of 11 hours. They must also be off-duty for 10 consecutive hours prior to the start of a shift. Drivers who were on duty for 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days are restricted from driving.
Use of Drugs
Truck drivers cannot use any controlled substances, unless they are prescribed by a licensed physician who is familiar with the driver's medical history and assigned duties. The physician may also prescribe any drug only after he/she has determined that the drug use will not adversely affect the driver's ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
According to Federal regulations trucking companies must:
- Test their drivers for alcohol and drug use as a condition of employment,
- Do periodic random tests of the drivers while they are on duty and after an accident involving a fatality.
Inability to Watch the Blind Spots
Truck drivers are trained to watch for vehicles that might enter the "no-zone" area. A "no-zone" is an area where a passenger car disappears from the truck driver's view. There are front, side, rear, backing up, and right turn no-zones. Research has shown that accidents between cars and large trucks are 60% more likely to occur when a car is in a “no-zone” area. Error occurs when a truck driver is unaware that another vehicle has entered the “no-zone” area or does not take precautionary measures when a vehicle enters that zone.
Front Brakes De-powering and Improper Trailer Attachment
Drivers who own or operate a truck will often de-power the truck's front brakes and rely upon the trailer brakes and downshifting to slow or stop the truck. By not using the front brakes, the driver/owner of the truck reduces the operating costs by minimizing wear and tear on the brakes and tires.
Not using the front brakes greatly increases the risk of accidents, including the increased tendency for a truck to jack-knife. Sometimes improper trailer attachment to the front of the truck also increases the risk of jack-knifing.
Rollovers Caused by Driver Errors
Major causes of fatalities and injuries in trucking accidents are rollovers caused by driver errors such as:
- Driving too fast;
- Taking a curve too fast;
- Inexperience; or
- Improperly distributing the truck's load.
Marvin A. Cooper, P.C Can Represent Your Case. Call (914) 357-8911 & (718) 619 4215
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an accident caused by truck driver’s error, call Marvin A. Cooper, P.C. to learn about your legal rights. You can call him at (914) 357-8911 / (718) 619 4215 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.