Despite training and hands-on expertise behind the wheel, truck drivers (especially those driving big rigs) are involved in a high percentage of serious accidents, many of which result in serious injuries for the car, motorcycle, van and pickup truck drivers and passengers involved in crashes with these big rig drivers.
NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) offers a number of common causes of truck accidents, including reckless driving, tailgating, speeding, improper lane change and impairment due to drugs or alcohol.
Driver Fatigue Leads to Connecticut Trucking Accidents
Fatigue is another serious cause of big-rig accidents. According to “Fast Lane,” the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation, most U.S. truck drivers are responsible and “drive well within reasonable limits.” However, they blame exhausted truckers and greedy trucking companies that push their employees too hard, providing incentives for driving longer miles and disincentives for those who pull over sooner to get some rest, a classic “carrot and stick” approach, with often tragic results. Well over 50% of big-rig accidents happen on trips of 51 miles or more. Often drivers put in hundreds of miles without a significant rest stop.
Truckers pushing their limits become less alert, slower to respond to danger on the road and even fall asleep behind the wheel. Symptoms can often mirror those of alcohol use, even when drivers are cold sober. The result is that almost 4,000 people die in crashes involving big trucks every year with driver fatigue cited as the cause of many of these accidents.
Fast Lane adds that frequently truckers can’t tell when they’re moving from a tired-but-functional stage to full-on fatigue, and, once they lapse into that state behind the wheel, it’s often too late—they’re driving too fast or too slow, unable to respond to oncoming traffic or drifting between the lanes. Legally, truck drivers are only allowed to be on-duty for 14 hours (which includes fueling and maintenance work) and behind the wheel for 11 hours.
Brake Failure, Inexperience and Other Factors Lead to Truck Crashes
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FHCSA) of the DOT cites other serious causes, like driver inexperience behind the wheel and drivers unfamiliar with the area in which they’re driving. Other causes of truck accidents include brake problems, speeding, driver inattention, poor road conditions (including thunderstorms, snow, hailstorms, sleet and other dangerous weather conditions) and drivers making illegal maneuvers on the road.
While we’re discussing causes it should be pointed out that other drivers cause accidents involving big rigs. Cars that maneuver to the right of big trucks making right-hand turns are asking for trouble, as are car, motorcycle and pickup drivers that consistently drive in a trucker’s blind spot or “no-zone,” merge improperly into traffic that includes a large number of trucks, as well as passing unsafely by not allowing adequate headway for trucks. Driving between two or more large trucks also can lead to accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck and needs an experienced Bridgeport, Fairfield and Milford area lawyer to fight for your rights, call attorney Jim Miron for a free, no obligation consultation at (203) 339-5991 or use the convenient contact us form on this website.