Alarming Increase in Injuries from Trucking Crashes

The number of injuries from trucking crashes is alarming but, considering the pressure put on drivers by trucking companies, shippers, and brokers, the increase in trucking crash injuries is not all that surprising. From 2009 to 2016, truck crash injuries increased from 74,000 to 145,000 – an overwhelming 96 percent increase.

Every 16 minutes someone in the United States is seriously injured or killed in a trucking accident. In 2016 alone, more than 4,300 people were killed in trucking accidents.

Tractor-trailer accidents cause a disproportionate number of deaths because of the vast difference in size and weight between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle. The frequency and severity of accidents involving large trucks (big rigs, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, eighteen-wheelers) makes legal representation critical for victims of trucking accidents.

Ways to Prevent Trucking Accidents

As an attorney, I see far too many people who have been seriously injured or killed in tractor-trailer crashes. In most cases, these crashes are preventable. Whether you are a truck driver or everyday motorists, safety starts with you. Safety tips for passenger vehicles drivers:

  • Always use caution when driving near semi-trucks. It can be difficult for semi-trucks to stop or swerve to avoid a collision because these trucks can weigh more than 80,000 pounds and are not as agile as your passenger vehicle.
  • Do not “tailgate” behind a big rig. If you cannot see the mirrors on the tractor’s cab, then the truck driver cannot see you.
  • If there is an emergency ahead, give yourself plenty of time to stop your vehicle. The stopping time and distance for a truck is much greater than that of a passenger vehicle.
  • Keep in mind that stopping distance increases even more when a semi-truck has a heavy load or the road conditions are icy or wet from snow and rain. A fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds and traveling under ideal conditions at highway speeds requires almost the length of two football fields to stop.
When Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies are Negligent

Truck drivers handling an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer and covering hundreds of thousands of miles is an incredible responsibility. Trucking companies and drivers must be vigilant about safety. We’ve written before about the common causes of trucking accidents and how to prevent them.

Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of commercial truck crashes. Many factors influence driver fatigue, including the presence of a sleep apnea, a condition that pauses breathing and prevents restful sleep. Last summer, the federal government withdrew a proposed rule that would require truck drivers to be screened for sleep apnea.

Negligent hiring practices of trucking companies is also a considerable problem. Trucking companies have a duty to select competent drivers. After a trucking accident, it is imperative to conduct a thorough investigation of the trucking company’s hiring practices and driver’s competence to discover:

  • Hiring practices by the trucking company.
  • Prior acts of negligence/driving history.
  • Quality of drivers.
  • Prior driving records.
  • Experience or lack thereof.
  • Proper licensure, training and supervision of drivers.
  • The ability to perform a job safely given the employer’s requirements.

Unfortunately, we’ve represented victims of trucking accidents and their families in cases where truck drivers had horrific driving records and lacked sufficient training and supervision to perform their jobs safely.

How to Determine the Cause of a Tractor-Trailer Crash

It may be difficult to determine the cause of a trucking crash. It takes an experienced team of investigators to do so.

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