When truck drivers take negligent actions behind the wheel, people in their path are often severely injured or killed. The large size and weight of fully loaded trucks creates a significant force of impact in a crash.
Commercial Trucks Pose Deadly Dangers
Due to their large size and weight, large commercial trucks pose significant injury risks when accidents occur. A fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, the maximum weight limit imposed by the federal government. Fully loaded trucks usually cause severe injuries or death to people involved in a crash, but truck driver mistakes caused by negligent actions may be just as deadly.
According to the National Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), trucking accidents for 2019 are at their highest rate in the past 30 years. In 2018, deadly accidents involving large commercial trucks rose by 3 percent and are continuing to rise each year. NHTSA data shows that 885 commercial truck occupants died in 2018, a rise of one percent from 2017. In addition, 4,678 deaths were reported for occupants in passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians involved in large commercial truck crashes. In 2018, pedestrians killed in crashes involving large trucks increased by 13 percent.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that a collision with a large commercial truck usually results in severe injuries or death, because of the force of impact. When crashes occur, truck crash lawyers often see severe injuries including crushed and broken bones, amputated limbs, neck and spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, skull fractures and head trauma, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). If accident victims are lucky enough to survive the crash, they often suffer chronic pain, physical or mental disabilities, and life-long injuries that result in constant medical care and extensive medical bills.
Truck Driver Mistakes Are Causing Deaths
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) blames rising trucking fatalities on truck driver errors caused by negligent behaviors. Although commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard of driving safety, the trucking industry has a high rate of accidents caused by dangerous behaviors and driver negligence.
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of large truck crashes. Since commercial truckers face long hours on the road, many turn to distractions to relieve boredom and sleep deprivation. Distracted driving for commercial truckers includes talking and texting on a cell phone, making radio or GPS adjustments, surfing the Internet, eating and drinking while driving, reaching for items on the floor, watching outdoor events, and daydreaming. Truck drivers who cause distracted driving accidents face steep fines and potential license suspension, as well as permanent loss of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for repeated offenses.
The National Transportation Safety Board reports that 30 to 40 percent of commercial truckers suffer from driver fatigue. Heavy delivery schedules and long hours on the road place demands on drivers that create sleep deprivation. Studies show that staying awake for 18 or more hours has the same effect on a driver’s body as being legally intoxicated. Although there are legal limitations imposed on commercial drivers for daily and weekly hours of service, some drivers push the limits and break the rules to increase income.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
In the trucking industry, drivers who do not meet their delivery deadlines may face penalties. Some interstate truck drivers get paid by the total miles driven per day, which creates an incentive to drive as many miles as possible within 24 hours. The only way this is possible is by exceeding the speed limit. Speeding is considered an unsafe, aggressive driving behavior that may hold a driver liable for accidents and injuries that occur. Other aggressive truck driver behaviors include:
- Disobeying traffic signals
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Weaving between lanes
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to reduce downhill speeds
- Tailgating other vehicles
Alcohol and Drugs
Although commercial truck drivers are required to meet strict regulations for alcohol and/or drug use, some drivers don’t obey them. Alcohol and drug use with marijuana, cocaine, and opioids are common problems within the trucking industry. While some drivers use alcohol and drugs to boost energy or relax from stress, older drivers are often affected by prescription medications that impair driving skills. With a current shortage of truck drivers in America, many truckers over the age of 65 are still on the road with no plans for retirement.
Negligent actions of commercial truckers are increasing injury and fatality rates for other drivers on the road. Such negligent actions make truck drivers and trucking companies liable for accidents, injuries, and wrongful deaths. When Nevada accident victims suffer injury or death caused by negligence of another party, a truck crash lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit to compensate the victim for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.