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Are Tractor Trailers Dangerous?

Tractor-trailer trucks are the biggest vehicles on the road, making them difficult to see around which can cause accidents. Fully loaded trucks weigh three times as much as a car and have a higher center of gravity. They are 50 percent longer than cars and take up more than 10 times the road space. 

In a truck-car accident, the car usually comes out as the loser. In 72 percent of car accidents involving a big rig, the victims were the occupants of other vehicles. The question then becomes, why are so many truck accidents occurring?

Driver Fatigue

There have been many instances of long-haul truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel from being overworked and tired. Truckers are under pressure to work long hours, so much so they sometimes violate set hours of service regulations. These regulations put a limit on how many hours truckers are allowed to drive in a given week. Sometimes those rules are broken by the driver themselves or by a greedy employer that puts profit before safety.

The last several years have seen a much greater focus on driver behavior and what can be done to reduce risk. The use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) is one such idea, though it has not yet made a significant dent in the number of deaths or accidents involving large trucks.

Distracted Driving

Truck drivers are prohibited from using a phone when they are in motion, but many still do. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned texting and handheld usage while driving and has increased fines and penalties for violators. The FMCSA also publishes safe driving tips, including pointers on how to avoid distractions inside and outside of the truck.

There are four basic types of driver distraction: visual, auditory, manual, and cognitive. All can temporarily take the focus away from the road, but which is most distracting? Here’s a crash course in driver distraction. 

  • Visual Distraction. Looking at something other than the road, such as an animal near the road side.
  • Auditory Distraction. Hearing something not related to driving, like sirens.
  • Manual Distraction. Picking up an object or trying to operate something such as the radio or MP3 player in an unfamiliar way.
  • Cognitive Distraction: Thinking about something other than driving.

The basic act of eating while driving is very distracting, as it requires the driver’s hands to be off the wheel with eyes cast downward, and cognitive effort to consume the food.

Liability in Trucking Accidents

It’s not only truck drivers that can be held liable for accidents. Trucking companies, cargo and loading operators, and part and vehicle manufacturers may also be at fault.

Research has shown trucking companies typically have weak to non-existent tracking systems for their drivers. This can result in serious consequences for employers if a driver is not being monitored during a trip, or if they commit an offense while using a company vehicle.

Third-party cargo and loading companies are often tasked with handling load balancing for the trucking companies. If there isn’t a clear, written procedure outlining how a trailer should be loaded, the cargo company employee can neglect certain aspects of trailer loading which can lead to an imbalanced load. These imbalances greatly increase the chances of a serious roll-over accident.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, it is important to know that you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a law firm in Detroit with attorneys that can review your case and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.

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