Answering your Frequently Asked Questions:
What Should I do After an Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured by a commercial truck driver, it is critical that you complete these steps before doing anything else. These four steps detail exactly what to do after an accident in order to get maximum compensation for your damages and injuries. This is critical information that major insurance companies DO NOT want you to know.
- Be examined by a doctor. Even if you feel okay because some injuries (organ, spinal- cord damage) can go undetected and cause greater damage later on. Also, being seen by a doctor allows you to properly document your injuries.
- Take photos at the accident scene. If you are unable, have a trusted friend or family member take pictures for you. Take shots from multiple angles and include shots of your vehicle, the truck, and your injuries. The police on the scene of the accident should also take photos before the site is cleared, but if they do not be sure to request that they do.
- Leave your vehicle as it is until it is appraised for damage. The repair estimate can often become covered by your claim, and mechanics may be able to determine that a defect with your vehicle contributed to the accident. In that case, the manufacturer of your car may be at fault.
- Contact an attorney. This is of the utmost importance because you can be sure that the trucking company already has specialized attorneys to minimize their liability and prevent you from receiving the full compensation you deserve. A truck accident attorney working on your behalf will conduct an investigation, gather and protect key evidence, and handle communications with all other parties involved.
What are the most common conditions that lead to a truck accident?
A 2006 study done by the Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Instituterevealed the conditions in which truck accidents are most likely.
According to the study, nearly two-thirds of fatal accident involvements occur in rural areas, and in daylight. They found that 84.2% of fatal accident involvements occur on dry roads, and 87.1% of fatal accident involvements occur in “normal” weather conditions. This might be surprising to some who would assume that truck accidents are more likely in poor weather conditions. 30.2% of fatal involvements occur on state highways, 23.0% on U.S. highways, and25.7% on Interstate highways. In 11.0% of fatal involvements, the other vehicle crossed the center line of the road and struck the truck head on, this is what is known as a head on collision, and is very common.
What types of trucks are the most common to be involved in a fatal collision?
According to a 2006 study done by the Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute there are certain truck configurations that aremore likely to be involved in a trucking accident.
This includes straight trucks with no trailer, which were involved in 30.5% of all fatal truck accidents. Meanwhile, tractor-semitrailers accounted for 58.2% of the trucks and over half of the tractor-semitrailers pulled a van trailer, such as a dry box van or a refrigerated van.23.1% of the straight trucks were“dump” trucks. The next most common straight truck cargo body was a van body, with 18.6%.
Of all fatal accidents, 28.9% of the trucks were empty, 19.9% were carrying general freight, and 14.7% were carrying solids in bulk (gravel, soil, etc.) at the time of the accident.74.2% of the trucks involved in a fatal accident were Class 8, the heaviest Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) class, proving that large trucks are the most dangerous.
Another striking fact presented by the study was that 36.8% of the trucks were on local trips (within 50 miles of base) when involved in the fatal accident. This may mean that truck drivers become easily distracted because they feel very comfortable with the roads. Becoming too comfortable while driving can lead individuals to forget just how dangerous the act of driving can be, especially when you are driving a vehicle as massive as a truck. One final finding is that in 2006, 68 tractor-semitrailers and 23 straight trucks involved in a fatal accident were carrying flammable liquids at the time of the crash; such cargo can make accidents particularly dangerous.
Are drugs and alcohol involved in trucking accidents?
It is an unfortunate fact that despite the serious risks, some truck drivers still indulge in the use of illegal drugs or alcohol while operating these massively dangerous vehicles. The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 recognized the importance of keeping truck drivers off of drugs and alcohol while driving. Therefore, compulsory drug and alcohol testing was implemented for safety-sensitive transportation employees in fields such as aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines and other transportation industries. This act applies to nearly 10 million people.
These drug tests detect traces of:
– Marijuana (grass, pot, weed, hash, joint, Acapulco gold)
– Cocaine (coke, crack, snow, blow, flake, “C”, rock, base)
– Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives – (heroin, horse, “H”, junk, smack, scag, Miss Emma)
– Amphetamines – amphetamines and methamphetamines – (uppers, speed, bennies, black beauties, Christmas trees, crystal, mollies, crank, BAM, dexies)
– Phencyclidine – PCP – (angel dust, peace pill, hog, supergrass, embalming fluid, rocket fuel, killer weed)
These tests are required before a prospective employee is hired, and if an employer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this step may come too late if the suspected driver has already been in a drug or alcohol related accident. To combat this, employers and the DOT often enforce random testing, in which each truck driver has the same chance of being chosen for a drug test. Finally, drug and alcohol tests are mandatory after certain moving violations or trucking accidents, including those in which medical attention is necessary for any individuals involved and for again before re-entry can be authorized if a driver has been suspended.
If a driver is found in violation, he or she is unable to be involved in any safety-sensitive activities until they completes the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) evaluation, referral, and education/treatment process set forth in 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart O, and in applicable FMCSA regulations. These strict regulations have cut down on cases of truck drivers operating vehicles while under the influence of drugs or accidents, but unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse still occurs.
According to traffic accident statistics from 2008, approximately 2% of large truck drivers involved in fatal truck accidents had blood alcohol concentrations of .08% or higher. This is above the limit to operate a standard passenger vehicle, and twice the legal limit to operate a commercial vehicle. Drug use was reported in only 1.3% of all fatal truck accidents.
Although the prevalence of illegal alcohol and drug use among truck drivers has declined in recent years due to stricter law enforcement, that does not make up for the fact that every single accidentcaused by drunk driving or illegal drug useiscompletely avoidable. The fact is that absolutely no one should die or suffer serious injuries or damages due to accidents involving large trucks and impaired drivers.
What are the Critical Reasons for Large Truck Failures?
There is no getting around it; large trucks are simply more hazardous than the smaller passenger cars on the road. Commercial trucks are the giants of the highway, and one wrong move can easily wreck one or more smaller vehicles.It doesn’t help that driving a commercial truck is no piece of cake. Trucks are more dangerous, complicated and difficult to operate. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are particular failures specific to large trucks. There are often a few contributing factors, known as critical reasons, that lead to a critical event, or accident. Possible critical reasons include driver decisions, vehicle failures, and environmental conditions.
There are over 5000 fatal truck accidents every year, and many of these collisions are caused by mechanical or maintenance failures. According to a study done by the U.S Department, 47 % of large trucks in single-vehicle crashes are coded as “this vehicle loss of control.” This means that the truck driver somehow lost control of the truck. This could be due to driver or mechanical error, road conditions, or perhaps a combination of all three. According to the study, 67% of the time the truck lost control because it was “going too fast for conditions.”
According to a 2006 study done the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute the most common mechanical violations are being related to the brake and lighting systems. Almost 55% of vehicles involved in fatal incidents have a minimum of one mechanical violation. A staggering 30% have a condition that should deem the truck to be out-of-service.
According to the Department of Transportation, almost 30% of reported accidents were caused by some sort of brake failure. Depending on the cause, this could mean that the brakes did not meet federal regulations, that they were not properly inspected or maintained, or perhaps there was a flaw in the design or manufacturing of the tire. Inconsistent inspection and maintenance can lead to the very dangerous risk of a tire blow out. Tire blowouts are common on the nation’s highways and often lead to loss of control and major collisions.