Fatal truck accidents happen almost 11 times a day, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This translates to more than 4,000 deaths every year; non-fatal accidents, on the other hand, number to more than 100,000 annually.
Ii was in 1986 when the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed into law. As this law strictly mandates the removal of bad drivers from the road, allowing drivers to continue operating a truck despite multiple traffic violations, especially a DUI or driving under the influence, is, therefore, a clear violation of this law, to which truck drivers, and their safety officers and employers must be held liable, especially if an accident occurs.
Many truck drivers normally drive for 11 hours, especially if the cargo they carry needs to be delivered fast and on time. Thus, despite feeling fatigued or sleepy, the mental resolve to make a timely delivery makes them forego personal needs for the sake of work requirement. This attitude, however, has proven detrimental many times as this takes away their focus on driving and reduces their ability to react to emergency situations. Furthermore, it increases their inability to notice smaller vehicles, whose drivers also fail to observe proper care, committing the mistake of tailgating a truck or driving in its “no zone” area.
Due to the length of big rigs or 18-wheelers, their drivers often end up failing to notice smaller vehicles driving in their “no-zone” or blind spot areas. These “no-zone” areas refer to spots around a truck where crashes would most likely happen because (smaller) vehicles are not visible to truck drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these areas include:
- a truck’s front area, where smaller vehicles often make the mistake of suddenly slowing down or making an emergency stop after cutting in front of a truck;
- a truck’s rear area, where smaller vehicles make the mistake of tailgating it; and,
- a truck’s sides (especially the right or passenger side), where smaller vehicles are usually never visible and can easily be crushed if truck changes lane or makes a right turn.
According to the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, “Trucking companies and the drivers they employ have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect other drivers on the road. When a trucking company has done everything they can to ensure that both their vehicles and their employees have what they need to do the job safely, the responsibility for safe conduct shifts to the truck driver. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to take this responsibility seriously and cause catastrophic and preventable accidents as a result. Bearing all these in mind, truck accidents victims have every reason to take legal action against the responsible party if they suspect the accident was caused by any form of negligence or recklessness.”
On its part, the firm Abel Law says, “Large semi-trailer trucks have a commanding presence on the road. Most drivers take extra care around these large vehicles because they understand how devastating an accident with a truck could be. A single truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, or 40 times the weight of an average passenger vehicle.
Truck drivers have a responsibility to control their vehicles and to exercise caution at all times to help avoid causing an accident. When a truck driver acts in a way that puts other drivers at risk, he or she may be held liable for any injuries or damages that result. Thus, if your injuries were caused by another person’s reckless actions, you may be eligible to win compensation for medical expenses, reduced earning capacity, disability, ongoing pain, and emotional suffering. It is not right for innocent victims to shoulder the burden of other people’s mistakes.”