Truck Accidents And How They Affect You If Involved

Date: July 23, 2014
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Big rigs have the lion’s share of freight transport in the United States. Millions of trucks hit the road every year, delivering food, raw materials for manufacturers and household goods. Even though it is possible for automobiles and commercial trucks to co-exist on the roadway, personal injury from the crushing blow of a big rig is more likely than you might think. All it takes is one careless truck driver to turn your world upside down.

What Are the Odds?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, trucks make up four percent of registered vehicles, but are involved in eight percent of fatal crashes. In the U.S. alone, 2012 data found that 333,000 large trucks were involved in crashes, leading to 104,000 individual injuries. The size of commercial trucks increases the likelihood of severe injury to occupants in cars.

What About the Law?

There are laws that govern the trucking industry. The U. S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that commercial truck drivers receive training and be medically fit for duty before they receive a license to operate a big rig. Truckers must maintain an accurate log of the hours they drive and must not exceed a set amount of drive time in a 24-hour period.

The law also requires carriers to keep their trucks in safe operating condition and remedy mechanical defects like bad brakes and tires or faulty lights before they hit the road. Truckers must also adhere to load size or weight restrictions. For those who haul hazardous materials, transportation rules are rigorous.

The laws set in place for truck drivers do reduce the likelihood of accidents, but even the best laws and legal requirements can’t prevent accidents caused by a careless truck driver.

What Does Carelessness Look Like?

Examples of careless behavior on the part of truckers behind the wheel include:

  • Excessive speeds
  • Improper lane changes
  • Driving while distracted or texting while driving
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving a defective truck
  • Transporting a load that is overweight or improperly restrained

What Can You Do?

Having to share the road with big trucks does not mean having to succumb to law-breaking behavior that increases the potential for accidents. The first thing you can do is report any careless drivers to the proper authorities. Next, stay safe by following good driving practices yourself. Don’t drive in a truck’s blind spot, don’t follow a truck too closely and yield the right of way to a trucker even if you are not required to. A 4,000-pound car can’t win against a 40,000-pound truck. Finally, in spite of your best defensive driving tactics, if careless trucker behavior creates havoc in your life, get legal help from an experienced truck accident law attorney. You are entitled to compensation for personal injuries and hardships due to trucker negligence.

David Smacchi
David is a native of the Wyoming Valley and graduated from Pittston Area High School in 1990. He is a 1994 graduate of Penn State University and a 1999 graduate of The University of Akron School of Law. David practiced law at DLP in its Kingston office since August of 1999, and he has been a Partner in the firm since January of 2007.