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Each year, millions of trucks, all ranging in size, travel on U.S. roadways through various states and cities. Whether they are transporting freight, delivering mail, or working to keep the community clean by providing sanitation services, everywhere you look, it is likely you will see some type of truck sharing the roadway with you. While semis and other large trucks play an essential role in our economy as they transport goods and provide services to the community, they also contribute to the serious and fatal truck crashes we hear and read about each and every day. Because of a truck’s size and weight, not to mention the heavy loads they are responsible for transporting, it is no secret as to why accidents involving them tend to be some of the worst.
And that is why anyone who has been involved in an accident with any type of large truck or while driving one needs to retain a trucking accident lawyer immediately following the crash.
The reality is, hundreds of thousands of accidents involving trucks occur each year resulting in multiple parties suffering from severe and fatal injuries. In 2016 alone, 475,000 crashes were reported involving large trucks [Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)]. Some critical issues that are found in the trucking industry that contribute to accidents occurring include:
The FMCSA explicitly states that certain types of truck drivers can only operate their vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours at a time before they have to spend 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truckers must also not operate a commercial vehicle after being on duty, not necessarily driving, for 14 consecutive hours. Drivers who are required to abide by this rule sometimes find themselves faced with the decision to either stop driving or work beyond the legal limit. When a trucker chooses the second option, they often put themselves and others traveling around them in danger as they will likely become fatigued and unable to concentrate on the roadway ahead of them.
Driving while fatigued lowers a driver’s reaction time if they were to have to brake or steer suddenly as well as affects their ability to make good decisions [Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. In fact, drowsy driving was responsible for causing 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013 alone, according to the CDC and “commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses are more likely to drive drowsy” than other types of drivers.
Some of the top distractions truckers allow to interfere with their driving include:
Texting or talking on their cell phone.
Programming their GPS system while driving.
Multi-tasking while driving.
Looking at scenery or other objects they drive by.
Distracted driving is not only an issue that exists in the trucking industry, but it is also a serious problem for drivers all across the country. In fact, distracted driving has become one of the leading factors that contribute to motor vehicle accidents occurring. In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in a motor vehicle accident that involved a distracted driver and 3,477 were killed [Source: CDC].
When the trucking industry experiences a shortage, those who are working in it tend to feel the pressure. Many drivers are required to work longer hours and feel obligated to work faster rather than more efficiently just so they can get their load of responsibilities accomplished. This can lead to a driver engaging in reckless behavior such as speeding, riding too closely to other vehicles, making abrupt turns, driving on roadways they are not legally permitted to operate on, etc.