Tractor Trailers Unique Accident Dangers
by Scott Blumenshine
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2014, the most recent year for which there are statistics, there were 3,744 fatal truck accidents across the nation. Another 88,000 trucks were involved in injury accidents.
In Illinois, 98 people were killed in trucking accidents and more than 2,000 were injured. Due to the weight of the truck and force with which it can ram into other vehicles, crashes often result in death or cause catastrophic injuries.
Most Common Types of Trucking Accidents
Although there are many types of trucking accidents, some of the most common that occur with tractor-trailers are:
- Tire blowouts. When a tire blows out on an ordinary sedan, it is dangerous and, although it can cause the driver to lose control, a skilled driver may be able to pull over to the side without incident. When it happens to a semi, the driver almost always loses control due to the weight of the truck. Roll-over crashes are often caused by tire blowouts.
- Roll over crashes. Roll overs in ordinary cars generally occur when a driver is speeding. In trucks, roll overs occur more frequently when a truck is going around a curve or up or down a steep incline. Once the rolling starts, the driver no longer has control and the damage to anyone in the way may be catastrophic.
- Jackknife accidents. These accidents end up with the cab of the trailer facing one direction and the trailer facing the other. It can be caused by bad road conditions, improper braking or faulty equipment.
- Underside accidents. This is a tragic type of accident that occurs when a truck stops suddenly and the car following behind drives right under the truck. These are generally fatal to the driver of the vehicle that drives under the truck and results in the total destruction of that vehicle.
Critical Events and Critical Reasons for Truck-Trailer Accidents
The FMCSA conducted a study on the most common causes of truck accidents. Although the study was conducted several years ago, there is no indication the information is not still relevant. The study identified both critical events resulting in accidents and the critical reasons that lead up to the occurrence of the critical events.
Three major critical events:
- In 32 percent of accidents, the large truck travels out of its own lane, into another lane or off the road.
- In 29 percent of accidents, the driver loses control due to driving too fast, shift in the cargo, systems failure, poor road conditions or other reasons.
- In 22 percent of accidents, the truck runs into the rear of another vehicle.
Additionally, the study found that 87 percent of all reasons leading to the critical events were attributable to driver error.
Four critical reasons that driver error leads to the three critical events.
- Drivers failed to perform. They fell asleep or were, in some way other way, disabled, for example, by having a seizure or a heart attack.
- Drivers were inattentive or distracted.
- Drivers made poor decisions. They drove too fast, did not allow enough time to stop, did not adequately evaluate the road conditions or incorrectly estimated speed of other drivers or followed too closely.
- Performance was incorrect. In some cases, drivers panicked and over-corrected, resulting in an accident.
Companies that hire truck drivers are often frequently liable for the accident caused by the driver.
Trucking Company Errors
There are many reasons a trucking company can also be liable for an accident. Just a few of those reasons are:
- Failure to do an adequate background check on the driver. Companies are mandated by law that, for every applicant, they must check the DMV record and police accident reports. Companies must verify the training and experience of each driver and not rely on the information provided by the applicant.
- Failure to follow-through with inspection of logs drivers are required to keep to be certain drivers are following the law concerning how many hours they must drive versus how many hours they must rest.
- Failure to properly maintain the fleet and not keeping logs updated with notations of regular inspections and repairs.
- Unrealistic schedules, requiring truck drivers to rush in order to get their goods to the destination so the driver can collect maximum pay.
If you were injured, or someone you love was killed in a trucking accident, call our trucking accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Meyer & Blumenshine for a free consultation. If you are unable to come to us, we can arrange to come to you. We have a track record of success in obtaining for our clients all the compensation to which they are legally entitled.