When you’re wielding an 80,000-pound big rig on the road with other passenger vehicles and pedestrians, there’s no room for mistakes. Being lax, poorly trained or not adhering to safety protocols when hauling a load in a semi, trailer or 18-wheeler can result in some of the most serious accidents in the United States.
Despite Federal and State regulations that require all professional truck drivers to have the proper training and license and that they adhere to these requirements when driving and maintaining their rig, most trucking litigation is against the drivers and companies who hire them – for negligence.
Although most professional truck drivers are aware and responsible and driving their rigs safely, truck accidents still occur. The reasons for these accidents vary and include everything from limited visibility and distraction to driving while impaired. Here are the most common causes of big rig accidents on the road today.
Driver Fatigue – Truck drivers are limited by law to drive only a certain number of hours on the road. At times, companies will allow drivers to extend their hours to meet a deadline. Driving while overtired has proven, time and again, to result in big rig accidents.
Distracted or Impaired Driving – Distracted or impaired driving, whether it’s in a big rig or passenger car, always plays a big role in the number and severity of accidents on our roadways. Losing focus on the road due to the use of cell phones, eating while driving, using controlled substances, not taking proper breaks from the boredom or stress of the road, and other issues can cause big rig truck drivers to be distracted.
Excessive Speed – Big rigs require both more time to stop and larger stopping distances to allow them to maneuver those 40 tons around potential hazards. This also means that they need to take special precautions with speed and following distance in inclement weather, taking into account roadway and traffic conditions, in order to avoid an accident.
Aggressive Driving – When the vehicle you’re manning is roughly twice to sixteen times the weight of the average passenger vehicle on the road, there is no room for aggression. Following too close or engaging in road rage can cost lives.
Overload or Improperly Secured Loads – Overloaded trucks (those with cargo exceeding their weight limits) will have more trouble with their already limited maneuverability, making their rigs difficult to slow or stop when necessary. Loads that are improperly secured may slip, causing spilled loads and potential hazards for other vehicles.
Mechanical Defects or Improper Maintenance – Slipshod truck inspections and improper truck maintenance can lead to mechanical failure on the road and contribute to or cause a big rig accident.
It’s important to remember that even a vigilant truck driver with a clean record and the proper training can still experience trouble on the road due to the demands of the industry and the pressures of making a delivery deadline. This is why it’s important for others on the road to make sure they’re keeping a safe distance from these large trucks and to watch for signs of potential trouble, avoiding a catastrophic car accident before it happens.