No-Zones – Large trucks have no-zones, or blind spots, that are located around the front, back, and sides of the truck. When a car is in the No-Zone, the truck driver is usually unable to see it. At these times, a large truck could turn into a passing car and a serious accident could result.
• Squeeze Play – Tractor-trailer trucks needs to swing wide to the left in order to negotiate a right turn. When truck drivers make wide right turns; they are often unable to see smaller vehicles directly behind or beside them. When a car cuts between the truck and a curb, the car can be caught in a squeeze, and a serious accident can occur.
• Stopping Distance – Big rig trucks need a greater stopping distance than other vehicles. If there is not enough stopping distance between a car and a large truck, the car risks being involved in a rear-end collision.
• “Off-track” – Occurs when a truck turns at a high speed and swings into an adjacent lane unexpectedly.
There are many different reasons for accidents involving large trucks, including negligence on the part of the truck driver or the other vehicles involved. Others include:
• Aggressive drivers
• Unrealistic schedules
• Failure to inspect tires, brake and lights
• Long work-shifts
• Driver fatigue
• Cell phone use
• Failure to install blind spot mirrors
• Speeding and ignoring reduced truck speed limit
Trucking accidents are different from auto accident in many ways, one of the most serious being the extent of damages and injuries when a truck and an automobile collide. A typical, fully loaded large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries.
There are many regulations, both state and federal, that trucking companies are required to follow. Some of those laws include the following:
• Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations concerning equipment and hours of service.
• Truck drivers are required to maintain a driver’s log.
• Federal regulations require commercial trucks to carry a certain level of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of the materials hauled. These regulations protect the victims of large truck crashed from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay damages out-of-pocket.
• The Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program required that individual states and other political jurisdictions unify to develop and implement programs that ultimately improve motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety and establish a safer and more efficient transportation system.
• Commercial drivers license standards and federal regulations are in place to reduce or prevent truck accidents and resulting injuries and/or deaths by requiring drivers of certain vehicles to obtain a single commercial motor vehicle drivers license.
• State and/or federal laws, depending on whether the truck was involved in intrastate or interstate transport, may govern truck accidents.
A driver will not be allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle if he/she engages in prohibited conduct. Prohibited conduct includes:
• Reporting for duty with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater,
• Possessing alcohol, unless it is part of a shipment, including medications like cough syrup or cold medicine that contain alcohol,
• Consuming alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions,
• Consuming alcohol within 8 hours preceding an accident,
• Reporting for duty while using any drug that affects the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or
• Refusing to submit to any DOT-mandated alcohol or drug test.
Driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. Tired truckers are of such concern that in April of 2003 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curb truckers’ problems with fatigue. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of truck crashes.
You should immediately consult with an experience truck accident lawyer. Truck companies have their own investigators and attorneys working hard to dismiss liability. One of the worst decisions individuals can make is to negotiate directly with trucking companies, insurance adjusters, or the trucking company lawyers. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at truck accident investigation and claims. Anything you say or sign may be held against you further down the road.