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The Dangers of Commercial Trucks

There is not a guaranteed, foolproof way to keep us safe when we are driving, because we cannot control the behavior of others sharing the road with us. Staying attuned to potential safety risks on the road is a great way for us to stay safe.

One huge potential safety risk is the 18 wheelers many of us end of having to drive beside. Due to their sheer size, these trucks can impose massive amounts of damage to our vehicles. More importantly, they are potential public safety hazards — putting the lives of us and our loved ones at risk.

I hope you never have to use the information presented in this blog post, but it is much better to be safe than sorry. Keep reading to learn more about commercial truck crashes, and more importantly, what to do if you’re involved in one.

All About Commercial Trucks

Most of us have seen 18-wheelers on the road. Maybe some of you have even driven some before. Regardless of how familiar you are with commercial trucks, here are some quick facts about commercial trucks.

Most semi-trucks are about 70 to 80 feet in length or 1/4th of an average high school football field.
The maximum weight for a semi-truck is a mere 18,000 pounds — which is almost four times the weight of the heaviest of SUVs.
The stop time of an 18-wheeler is, on average, 40 percent more than the stop time for the average car.

As you can tell just by these three bits of information, semi-trucks can pack quite a punch. This is why it is so important to be cognizant of the dangers they can pose to you and other cars on the road.

Causes of Commercial Vehicle Collisions

There are a wide variety of causes of commercial vehicle collisions. Many of these stem around the driver’s negligence. This negligence could be a result of reckless driving habits, fatigue from driving long hours, or just a simple lack of caution.

Another potential cause of an accident could be a mechanical issue with the semi-truck. Because of their unique size and weight, semi-trucks are prone to mechanical problems that ordinary vehicles aren’t. Some of the malfunctions include:

  • Defects in tires
  • Brake issues
  • Engine issues
  • Windshield wiper issues
  • Light outages (including head, and sidelights)

You might be wondering what to do if these malfunctions occur. Don’t worry, we can help you with that, too.

What to Do

If you’re involved in a commercial truck accident, the first thing you should do is to see a doctor. As you can probably tell based on their size, 18-wheeler crashes can be deadly. The insurance claims can wait — make sure that everyone involved in the crash is safe first.

Once you are done healing, the next thing is to reach out to an attorney who specializes in semi-truck collisions. Whether the crash was due to negligence or mechanical failures, one of the experienced attorneys from Russo, Russo, & Slania P.C. could be your best resource to help you get the support you need to receive the proper damages for your experience.

Having a Heart Attack Does Not Get You Out of Car Crash Fines

The carelessness rule that governs most of personal injury liability says that in an accident between two people, the more careless person should compensate the less careless one. However, in the recent case of a 20-year-old New Jersey man, Dan Langley, who caused a car wreck because he was struck by a heart attack while driving, could you label him as being careless?

Police officers who rushed to the scene saved the man’s life by immediately performing CPR, but then slapped him with three tickets for causing the wreck. Langley’s doctor was uneasy about the fines and felt more consideration was due to the situation. The CBS New York article covering the incident discloses that the man’s doctor “wrote the court a note, asking to forgive Langley for having the heart attack which caused the wreck”, which reads a bit like a parent asking a school to forgive their child’s absence because he had the flu.

Luckily for Langley, the court did finally consider his medical condition and the fact that there were no further injuries to anyone involved in the crash. They forgave two of the tickets, although they found him still responsible for a portion of the third ticket, which amounted to $133.

Maximum Hours of Driving Service: A Federal Order to Truck Drivers

Driving an 18-wheeler, which weighs about 80,000 lbs. or 40 tons and has a length of, at least, 70 feet is no easy task, especially if the job is done for more than 11 hours, night and / or day, anywhere. This is why drivers of large trucks are required to undergo additional training and education on proper handling and operation of these types of vehicles in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license or CDL. There is also a federal law that states how many hours a driver may drive continuously and the number of hours required for rest.

18-wheelers, also known as big-rigs, semis or tractor-trailers are commercial vehicles that carry loads of important cargo from one end of the state / country to another or from manufacturer to retailer; thus, these definitely render great service to the US economy. Yet, no matter how important the role these play, once on the road, these vehicles pose great danger due to their size and weight, so that even the least error can lead to devastating damages to properties and severe harm against innocent lives.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the US Department of Transportation, which is in charge of trucking and all other transportation-related industries, has issued regulations regarding the maximum driving hours or hours of service (HOS) of commercial drivers. Some of these regulations state that drivers of trucks:

  • Should not drive after rendering duty for 14 hours straight
  • Are allowed maximum driving time is 11 hours only, which is within the 14-consecutive-hour on-duty period
  • Ought to have 10 consecutive hours off-duty after his or her 14-hour service

A sleeper berth area is designed toward the back of the truck cab to allow drivers to take their much needed sleep when on the road. This will help them get over fatigue and drowsiness, especially when they need to strictly follow delivery schedules. Though some drivers may not admit it, but feeling drowsy while driving is very dangerous, in fact more dangerous than drunk-driving.

18-wheeler accidents happen daily in the US, though these can be avoided with the strict observance of the HOS order. If sleepiness is the reason behind an accident, then the victim has all the right to seek justice and compensation for all the accident-related injuries he or she will suffer from.

Observe Traffic Rules or Waive Right to Drive

The driver’s education course that hopeful drivers take, the driving test and the continuous ads and information on proper observance of traffic rules ought to be more than enough to keep all motorists and pedestrians safe on the road. This ideal scenario, though, remains just a possibility, for in actuality the number of road accidents involving cars continues to reach millions.

There are various causes of car accidents and all of which may be categorized under three headings: driver’s fault, manufacturer’s fault and road defects. Among the three, driver’s fault still registers the highest number of road tragedies.

Driver error, drunk-driving, speeding and reckless driving all fall under driver’s fault. There are times when an accident is a result of a simple careless act by the driver, such as answering a cell phone, reaching for something at the back seat or something that fell on the car floor; such acts which make the driver take his or her eyes off the road even for a couple of seconds, but which can very well result to an accident.

Reckless driving, speeding and drunk-driving are, likewise, driver errors, but of a different nature – for such acts are spurred by a thoughtless or irresponsible attitude, bereft of concern for others’ safety. Besides property damage, in the case of a car wreck, it can also cause serious injury to another driver or pedestrian. Sadly, these acts are products of a driver’s conscious decision, thus, these are willful decisions to act irresponsibly.

In the event of such an accident, even if the damage is limited to your property, your vehicle in this case, you still have the right to go after the negligent party to make him or her pay for the damages he or she has caused. Reckless attitude on the road should never be tolerated; over-speeding to be on time for an appointment or for any other reason can never be an acceptable excuse either as this will simply put other’s live in danger. Traffic rules are intended to keep everyone safe; if any driver has no intent of observing them, then they have no business being on the road with you.

Road Defects: A Threat to Safe Driving

To millions of people in the US who drive to their destinations every day, strict observance of traffic rules is doubly important – actually, anything that will ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers, especially children. No driver would ever want to be in an accident, just as much as no driver would ever want to cause one. Thus, driving with extra care, always having in thought everyone’s safety, is both a civil and moral obligation of everyone.

So many still fail to drive with total care, though, as they allow themselves to be distracted, fail to use signals or speed in their desire to reach their destination fast. Due to this, the number of car accidents in the US still reaches millions annually despite continuous information and education on safe driving plus constant reminders on observance of traffic rules. Regardless of how an accident happens, one underlying fact encompasses all of its types – that it is always a product either of reckless of careless behavior. It can be due to driver mistakes, like those mentioned above; but it can also be caused by the mediocre attitude of a vehicle part manufacturer, who compromises quality of parts for bigger income, or the unconcern of authorities in charge of road safety signs and maintenance. It takes only one substantial mistake from any of these persons for a road or motor vehicle accident, with devastating results, to happen.

It is a fact that the major cause of car accidents is driver error; but there are also lots of instances when the cause of accidents is a defective car part or, the more serious, road defects, especially on non-interstate roadways, as these affect all motorists. The list of road defects include faulty guardrail end treatments, potholes, substandard road construction, defective design of the roadway, wrong , misplaced or absent road signs, lack of pedestrian crossings, lack of traffic lights or railroad crossing lights, insufficient  street lighting, poor skid resistance of roadways and many more.

Whoever is responsible in maintaining road defects, but fails to repair it fast, is responsible for any accident that occurs due to it. If you’re a victim of a car accident and have sustained injuries because of these defective roads, then you can seek legal help to bring the liable party to justice and receive compensation from them.