Trucking accidents are a significant source of concern for Florida drivers. According to the 2013 Annual Crash Facts Report, published by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 316,943 vehicle crashes in the state of Florida in 2013, the last year for which full data is available. 32,055 of these crashes involved at least one commercial motor vehicle, which means that commercial trucks were involved in over 10% of all accidents on Florida roadways in 2013.
In addition to causing damage to vehicles and other property, crashes involving a commercial vehicle are also a significant source of injury. The same report states that crashes involving trucks and other commercial motor vehicles in 2013 caused 10,041 injuries and 213 fatalities in Florida.
One of the reasons why crashes involving a commercial vehicle are so damaging and deadly is due to their size. Commercial vehicles are often larger, heavier, and can potentially carry hazardous substances, and so there are special challenges for drivers that are sharing the road with a commercial vehicle.
To gain some insight into the dramatic difference in size between commercial and passenger vehicles, drivers should keep in mind that a large commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler, could easily weigh over 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. In stark contrast to this is the typical passenger car, which will generally weigh in around 3,400 pounds. Due to these dramatic differences, any accident involving a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle is often terrifying, regardless of the severity of any injury that is received.
In order to raise awareness of the increased need to use extra caution when traveling the roadways in the presence of these vehicles, we’re providing the following list of the most common causes of truck accidents.
- Mistakes and errors by the driver – Misjudging the capabilities of the truck, following too closely, excessive sleepiness, failure to use and/or follow signs and signals, distracted driving and other errors by drivers are the number one cause of truck accidents.
- Mechanical failure – Commercial trucks can be plagued by a wide range of mechanical failures, from a design or production flaw that causes a sudden failure in a critical part, to failures that are caused by mechanical breakdown from normal wear and tear or neglected maintenance tasks. When a critical part fails, it can cause erratic performance, sudden stalls and/or stops, rapid acceleration or deceleration and other events that can lead to the driver being unable to completely control the vehicle and a crash or other accident is often the result. Even if all of the equipment on a truck is operating properly, improper loading can cause a load to become off-balance which can lead to difficulty steering, or shifting that causes critical parts to fail to perform correctly.
- Poor weather conditions – Despite how experienced a driver may be, rapidly deteriorating road conditions such as those caused by significant weather events involving precipitation such as rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain and wind can quickly create dangerous situations where a truck accident can occur.
All motorists should be aware of these common causes of truck accidents and be prepared to take defensive action should any of these conditions occur. Whether you are commercial driver or motorist in a passenger vehicle, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a section on safety that provides helpful tips that everyone can use to learn how to avoid crashes when traveling on the roadways.
In addition to using extra caution and being more aware of the special driving challenges presented by commercial vehicles, there are also trucking regulations in place to help prevent or reduce the number of trucking accidents that occur on roadways in Florida and throughout the nation, as we’ve discussed in a previous blog post.
Despite all of these guidelines and recommendations, truck accidents and other incidents involving commercial vehicles still occur every day. If you’ve been in a crash that involves a truck or other commercial vehicle and are unsure of the next step, why not get in touch with us today? At DDB Law we have the knowledge, experience and compassion necessary to meaningfully discuss your options with you, and guide you through the recovery of such a traumatic experience.