While companies use tractor-trailers and trucks to transport goods such as supplies, equipment, or food, the trucking industry also causes many trucking accidents on the road. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, one out of nine traffic fatalities last year resulted from a collision involving a large truck or semi. Last year in the United States alone, 380,000 large trucks were involved in crashes and 4,229 people died along with 90,000 people injured as a result of the trucking crash.
Truck accidents may have a higher chance of causing serious injuries or a fatality in comparison to car accidents. There are several reasons why truck accidents are more likely to cause serious injury or death. The reasons include: trucks are much heavier than cars (80,000 lbs. or more when fully loaded) which causes a greater impact in a collision; a truck is higher up than a car; materials, like metal, used to build a truck are stronger than most other materials like plastic used to build modern cars today; and because trucks carry chemicals or flammable liquids, they may cause burns or explosions.
Why Truck Accidents Occur:
Here are some of the reasons why truck accidents and 18 wheeler accidents occur:
- Truck Driver did not take extra caution in adverse weather conditions;
- Truck Driver drives negligently and without due care;
- Truck Driver driving beyond the maximum hours allowed and is tired and fatigued;
- Truck Driver is distracted by using a cell phone, reaching for something in the truck, or eating while on the roadway;
- Aggressive driving by the truck driver;
- Defective products such as brakes or computer systems that govern driving controls;
- Poorly maintained maintenance on the truck and lack of adequate pre-trip inspections;
- Improperly loaded truck, such as being overweight
- Untrained truck driver and
- Truck Drivers who operate their semis and tractor trailers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a study conducted in 2006 found four main events were responsible for the majority of most all tractor trailer accidents: the driver losing control from products shifting (unsecured cargo), adverse weather conditions (driving in rain, sleet, now or ice), truck driver speeding, and/or driver fatigue (falling asleep at the week).
Truck Driver Fatigue & Federal Regulation:
One of the main reasons truck accidents occur is because of truck driver fatigue. Because of this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised trucking hours of service several years ago in order to promote safer driving on the roads and highways for all drivers.
Here are the same rules that have remained: truck drivers may drive a maximum of eleven hours after ten consecutive hours off duty; truck drivers may not drive have 60/70 hours on duty in a 7 or 8 consecutive days; and truck drivers may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty, following a ten consecutive hours off duty.
Tips on how to avoid Trucking Accidents:
- First, you should pay attention when you see a large truck. Trucks are different than other cars because the truck’s size and weight affect the truck driver’s ability to stop and change lanes. Because of the size of the truck and weight the truck is carrying, you should keep a safe distance between your car and the truck’s car.
- When adverse weather conditions are present you should use additional caution when driving by a truck. Just as cars have blind spots, so do 18-wheelers. Because trucks have large blind spots, use caution when passing them as they may not see you.
- Try to avoid road rage against truck drivers. No matter how made you may get at a truck driver do not make any aggressive moves or gestures to them. It is a battle you are sure to lose.
- If you have a flat tire or have to stop on the highway, pull your car completely off the roadway and use flashers or signals.
- Always drive with caution, especially in adverse conditions.
Tips on what do you if you are in a Truck Accident:
- Check to see if everyone is okay and ask if they need medical care.
- Always call the police and/or 911. When the officer arrives, he/she will know exactly what to do. They will gather information from all the drivers involved and get witness information to conduct an investigation.
- Do not forget to gather the other driver’s information yourself, including contact information, VIN numbers, company name, license plate number, and insurance information.
- It is also highly recommended that if you have a camera, you should take pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures of the trucks and cars involved. Take pictures of skid marks and any other part of the accident scene. You also want to take pictures of bruises or marks that were a result of the truck accident.
- If you have an injury from your truck accident, you should immediately seek medical treatment or see your doctor. Truck accidents can result in extremely serious injuries. Some injuries do not become apparent until later that same day or even a few days after the fact. This is why it is crucial to seek a medical exam after an injury from a truck accident, no matter how small to ensure you truly are okay. The same advice applies to children as well even if they think they are okay.
- Do not admit fault. In some circumstances, you may be tempted to admit fault without knowing all the facts surrounding the accident. Doing so could jeopardize you health and wellbeing if you do not have all the information concerning the collision
- Do not sign any papers without understanding what you are signing. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a Georgia trucking lawyer to help you understand exactly what you have been requested to sign or give approval on.
- When talking to insurance companies, use caution. They are trained professionals and are not working for you. They are trained professionals that know how to minimize you potential claim and will use their knowledge and experience to reduce any settlement amount you may be due in compensating you for your injuries. You may want to contact our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers to help protect your interests, especially when insurance companies may be unfair or unreasonable.
- Make sure to obtain and save all your receipts from the expenses you acquired as a result of the truck accident. This includes medical bills, gas receipts for doctor visits, lost wage documentation and other related items.
- Do not discuss the case with anyone except your doctor or your trucking lawyer.
Motor Carrier Act:
The Federal government and Georgia state laws have created special licensing rules for professional truck drivers and try to regulate how often they drive because large trucks can be extremely dangerous. These safety regulations created and enforced are often ignored or over looked by companies who place profits before public safety. Some truck drivers and companies may falsify their logs to continue driving which leads to lack of sleep and fatigued related accidents. With these laws and regulations being ignored and overlooked, it poses significant and painful results to individuals and families who are on these roadways with these trucker drivers.
The federal government passed the Motor Carrier Act which created the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). This Commission creates regulations that are intended to improve the safety of interstate trucking. Motor carrier is a term that refers to companies or an individual that utilizes the transportation of goods by motor truck or a bus. Check out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for more specific laws and rules governing tractor trailer drivers. Georgia has adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations in 1972 and therefore all professional truck drivers in and driving through Georgia must follow the FMCSR.
All motor carries are not permitted to operate a motor vehicle until the motor carrier obtains insurance and has the minimum level of financial responsibility.
Here is a list of the minimum levels of financial responsibility: commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,0001 or more pounds transporting hazardous substances in cargo tanks, portable tanks must have a minimum level of insurance of $5,000,000; commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds transporting certain hazard zone materials, packing group material, and highway route controlled quantities of materials must have a minimum level of insurance of $5,000,000; commercial vehicles with a gross weight rating of 10,0001 or more pounds transporting oil, hazardous waste, or certain other hazardous materials and hazardous substances must have a minimum level of insurance of $1,000,000; and commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 or more pounds transporting nonhazardous property must have a minimum level insurance of $750,000.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Act:
The 1986 Commercial Motor Vehicle Act established the maximum alcohol level as a .04% blood alcohol content (BAC) for a commercial vehicle driver to have in his/her system. If a truck driver’s BAC is at .04% or over, he/she will be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
What happens when a Driver is pulled over for DUI?
A commercial vehicle driver can be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year if he/she is pulled over for a DUI. After receiving their first DUI conviction, the driver can be disqualified for three years if the driver was transporting hazardous material. If the commercial vehicle driver is charged with a second DUI conviction, the driver can be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life. Truck drivers continue to get involved in tragic accidents while continuing use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
Georgia Statute of Limitations:
A statute of limitations is the given time period during which a legal action can be made. If the time period ends, it is a complete bar to any recovery if your case is not completely settled or the lawsuit is not served on the appropriate parties prior to this date or properly filed. Georgia has a statute of limitations of two years with truck accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck accident, you may want to contact our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers to see how they can help protect your legal rights. In addition to providing a free review of your claim, our Truck Accident Lawyers can also provide valuable insight into dealing with your injuries and precautions you should consider.