Trucking Accidents: Is Anyone Paying Attention? The Answer Is Yes--And No

Posted on: 19 June 2015

Motorists are increasingly under attack in this country from huge commercial trucks, often driven by truckers too weary to adequately gauge such important driving elements as braking distances and passing speeds. In fact, the number of trucking accidents is skyrocketing, even as the trucking industry seeks federal approval for increased weight and length specifications for their trucks. Safety advocates, on the other hand, are calling for restrictions on truckers' driving hours and safety technology on the trucks they drive. If you've been injured in a truck crash, you need to know more about this important issue--and about your options.

The problem

An alarming number of truck crashes occur annually, with little awareness by the general public as to the problem's severity. Consider these figures:

  • the number of people killed in truck accidents has increased every year since 2009

  • 3,602 people lost their lives due to collisions with commercial trucks in 2013

  • 97% of those killed were occupants of passenger vehicles

  • tractor-trailers, the largest type of commercial trucks, were involved in 73% of the large truck crashes in 2013

Every day, 11 times a day, fatal truck crashes occur around America.

The causes

Why do so many collisions occur each year--with such tragic results--between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles? There are five leading causes of trucking accidents.

  1. Driver fatigue. Truckers are allowed to drive 11-14 hours a day. However, because they are paid by the number of miles they drive, drivers often push these limits.

  2. Inadequate screening of problem drivers. Sometimes drivers fired from one trucking company will apply for a job with another one and are hired without adequate investigation. Additionally, some trucking companies fail to check their drivers' backgrounds, thereby missing vital information such as past DUIs or other driving violations.

  3. Insufficient safety technology. Although forward collision avoidance and braking systems that would help reduce the number of rear-end collisions are available for large trucks, these technologies are expensive for companies to implement on their trucks.

  4. Poor truck maintenance. Unsafe tires, engine problems, and faulty brakes are often glossed over rather than promptly fixed.

  5. The limited braking capability of loaded tractor-trailers. The longer and heavier the tractor-trailer, the more difficult it is to stop. In poor weather or at the appearance of sudden traffic hazards, truckers may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.

Imagine the outcry if one commuter jet crashed somewhere in this country each year, killing everyone on board. That is the number of people injured in truck accidents each year. Perhaps you are one of the 100,000 people injured, and you are wondering, "Is anyone paying attention to this problem?"

Pending legislation

The answer to this problem is both yes and no.

  1. No.  The trucking industry is asking Congress to allow truckers to drive longer hours. It is also asking for a change in length and weight allowances for trucks. That's right, the industry wants longer, heavier trucks driven by even more fatigued drivers!

  2. Yes. Advocates are not only opposing these actions, but are asking for installation of forward collision avoidance technology and automatic braking systems on trucks.

So far, no new legislation--on either side--has been passed. Discussion continues. Trucking companies say the increased freedom will actually reduce the danger by putting fewer trucks on the road, but advocates aren't buying it.

Possibilities for legal action

In the meantime, if you have been injured in a truck accident, you have a few options for compensation. Once your trucking accidents lawyer has determined the cause--or causes--of the crash, you can pursue legal action against the driver, the trucking company, or the company's insurance carrier. It is possible to file suit against more than one entity if the accident resulted from a combination of factors.

Consultation with an attorney is free, and you will not have to pay any fees until you receive an award. Contact a company like Gabrielson Law Offices, Ltd for more information.