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You don’t want to be involved in a crash with a semi truck. Between the truck and the load they’re hauling, they weigh up to 35,000 pounds. But where does responsibility lie when a crash does happen? Spoiler alert: most semi crashes are caused by the human factor. It’s true, we all make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean we’re not still responsible for our actions.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers—whether for non-performance, recognition, decision or performance reasons—account for 87 percent of the critical reasons behind large-vehicle crashes. Let’s break down that statistic and dive into some of the more common causes of semi truck accidents.
Those big 18-wheelers don’t have the ability to react as quickly as a compact car does. That makes stopping fast or turning sharply next to impossible. That’s why you’ll see lower posted truck speed limits than for other vehicles. But when drivers have tight deadlines to make on deliveries, it can lead them to make less-than-safe decisions.
It seems like there’s a chronic shortage of commercial vehicle drivers, and especially semi drivers. That means that sometimes new hires will be thrown in without the proper training. And that lack of training or lack of experience can lead to dangerous situations.
Safe semi driving starts before anyone even gets behind the wheel. Improperly secured loads can cause devastation on the highway when they come loose. And sometimes it’s even less obvious than a log falling off a truck.
Liquid loads, like oil and gasoline, are transported in trucks that are designed to hold a certain capacity. Going too far under that capacity, having a load that’s actually too low, can cause splashing and swaying, leading to a movement in the load that the driver doesn’t expect. That’s when a crash can happen.
Even with company restrictions and legal mandates on driving and rest time, semi drivers can get tired. And that’s before you even factor in someone breaking the rules, driving more than they should. The National Traffic Safety Board estimates that 30 to 40 percent of heavy truck accidents in the United States had driver fatigue as a contributing factor.
Phones, TVs, changing radio stations, eating a snack, and even unusual sights on the side of the road can all pose a distraction for drivers. And when long-haul truck drivers have been staring at the same stretch of highway for hours, and even days, on end, distractions can happen. Of course, some of those are legal and impossible to avoid. Others are not legal in many parts of the country, like using handheld mobile devices while driving. But unfortunately, illegal or not, distractions can often cause deadly crashes.
If you or a loved one has been affected by a semi truck crash, it’s important to get into the cause. That might be any of the ones listed here, including a combination of more than one. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry.
With the help of a personal injury attorney like those at Cok Kinzler, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. If compensation will help you get back on your feet, it’s important to pursue every option. A legal professional can help you find where the fault lies, so get in touch for a free consultation.