With so many trucks on the road, it’s inevitable that accidents will occur from time to time. The United States Department of Transportation reports that more than half a million trucking accidents happen each year. While most truck drivers follow the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), instances of carelessness and negligence do occur. Although the same can be said of any driver, the unfortunate reality is the immense size difference between car and truck can turn these simple mistakes into severe accidents.
The root cause of most accidents falls into one of four categories:
The FMCSA reports that driver error is the number one cause of trucking accidents. Driver fatigue, substances abuse, distraction and improper training all fall under this umbrella. Anyone who’s driven for a long stretch of time knows that your concentration and attention begin to wane after a certain point. In an attempt to minimize road weariness, new CSA guidelines released in July limit truck drivers from spending more than 70 hours per week on the road. In the event of an accident, checking the “Hours of Service” logbook is usually one of the first steps that an attorney will take.
The FMCSA has outlined strict pre-trip inspection procedures that truckers and carriers are required to follow. However, equipment failure is still the second leading cause of trucking accidents. While many instances of equipment failure can be attributed to defective parts, some are the result of sloppy inspections and improper maintenance, especially regarding worn brakes and tires. If an otherwise preventable accident occurs because a routine inspection was overlooked, the trucking company is liable.
An Improperly-Loaded Trailer
It goes without saying that trucks are heavy, and the majority of that weight is in the trailer. If freight is loaded incorrectly, the trailer’s weight distribution (and in turn, the truck’s) will be off. Not only will this affect how well the truck can maneuver and handle, but the imbalance in weight can also cause the truck to tip. The most common instance of improper loading occurs when freight isn’t properly secured and falls off of the truck and into the road. With cargo like fruit, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. A loose 2×4, on the other hand, could cause serious damage.
Poor Weather Conditions
Bad weather makes roads more dangerous for all vehicles, but trucks are especially vulnerable. Their heavy weight means they have more momentum, which in turn means that drivers need to account for an even greater braking distance on slippery roads. Steering and handling, which are more difficult for trucks to begin with, are also negatively affected. Truck drivers that prioritize speed over safety when bad weather rolls in can put everyone at risk.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, please contact an experienced attorney. Determining the cause of an accident can be difficult, especially when a commercial vehicle is involved. Our attorneys have experience with truck accident claims and know how to work together with experts to gather evidence and determine responsibility.