Frightening, but true: automobile, bus and truck accidents, especially semi-truck accidents, are becoming more rampant. To help protect our roads, GM&E investigates significant vehicle accidents where someone has been seriously injured or even killed as a result of this type of accident. To speak with a vehicle accident lawyer about an injury sustained in an accident, contact us at 410-752-3666.
Auto, bus and truck accidents happen every day. Commercial truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. And the danger does not stop with the truck drivers — it carries over to every other driver on the road.
In fact, in 2012 alone, more than 4,000 people died in truck and bus crashes. In the same year, approximately 126,000 people were injured in truck and bus crashes. Because trucks and buses outweigh the average car by several tons, the injuries associated with a collision are often more severe.
The average truck driver is under tight deadlines to transport freight from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Many trucking companies turn a blind eye to the unrealistic expectations of customers demanding fast deliveries. This leads to fast driving with very few breaks and too many sleepless nights. Combined, this can be a deadly combination.
Trucking companies often permit or even encourage their drivers to speed, drive in unsafe weather, skip rest breaks and falsify logbooks. These irresponsible trucking companies may also allow unsafe trucks on the road by failing to keep up with basic vehicle maintenance or requiring drivers to pick up trailers with unsecured or overweight loads. Ultimately, these types of trucking companies place profits above safety.
Excessive speed is the number one factor in most truck and bus crashes. Many truck drivers are paid by the mile, so, the faster they drive, the more miles they cover, the more they get paid. This formula often results in dangerous practices that can lead to a serious collision.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of crashes. Research has shown that driving without enough sleep is similar to driving drunk. In fact, the federal government recently revised trucking regulations to require drivers to take a 34-hour rest period each week that includes two nighttime rest periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Despite these rules, tired truckers are on the road everyday risking their safety and yours.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes today. Federal regulations prohibit truck drivers from texting while driving and from talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving.
Unsafe Trucks, Trailers and Buses
Truck and bus companies have a duty to maintain safe vehicles. Truck drivers must do a pre-trip inspection each time they drive a commercial vehicle to ensure it will operate safely. If a truck, trailer or bus is unsafe, companies are required to take that vehicle off the road. Unfortunately, poorly maintained tractor trailers and buses with faulty brakes, bad tires and other mechanical failures frequently cause crashes.
Under federal law, tractor trailers and their cargo cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Overweight trucks require more stopping time, and may be more likely to rollover in a crash.
Negligent Hiring, Training and Supervision of Truck Drivers
Trucking companies are required to investigate a new driver’s background before hiring him. This includes drug testing, contacting prior employers and investigating prior crashes and driving violations. Trucking companies also must make sure that their drivers operate safely and do not violate the law. However, many trucking companies ignore problems with drivers in favor of keeping more trucks on the road.
Driving Under the Influence
Alcohol and drug abuse by truck drivers can create dangerous driving conditions that can result in fatal crashes. Some truck drivers use illegal drugs, or misuse prescription drugs, to help them stay awake and drive more hours. Following a serious collision, truck drivers must submit to drug and alcohol testing.