Common Causes Contributing to Big Truck Accidents

Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles are involved in many accidents on South Carolina roadways each year.  A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds.  An accident caused by one of these vehicles can result in serious injury or death.  The following are some of the major causes of big truck accidents.

Fatigue

One of the leading causes of big truck accidents is driver fatigue.  Companies sometimes pressure drivers to meet deadlines, so they are on the road longer than they should be.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has regulations restricting the number of hours per day that truckers can drive before taking a break.  They have found that driving for extended periods leads to drowsiness and driving at night increases the risk factor.  Response times, judgment, and reflexes suffer when drivers are tired.  FMCSA regulations allow commercial drivers to be on the road up to 11 hours per day and 60 hours in 7 days.  After the 11 hours, drivers must rest for 10 hours straight.  However, if drivers do not cross state lines, federal regulations do not apply.  State laws would apply, but they are often more lax.

Distracted driving

Texting and the use of electronic devices causes a driver to take their eyes off the road resulting in distracted driving.  The FMCSA has rules that prohibit texting and using a hand-held mobile device while operating a commercial motor vehicle.  Many states have similar laws, including South Carolina.  Texting while driving is illegal in South Carolina.

Impaired driving

The DOT, along with the FMCSA has regulations requiring motor vehicle operators with commercial drivers licenses to be tested for alcohol and drugs.  This includes “medical” and “recreational” marijuana use.  They maintain a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse that gives employers and government agencies real-time access to information about commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol violations.  This helps to keep the roadways safer for all drivers.

Speeding

The FMCSA cites speeding as a major contributor to commercial trucking accidents.  Drivers will sometimes speed to maintain schedules.  Speeding increases the stopping time and speeding through curves contributes to rollover accidents.  Big trucks should slow down for bad weather conditions, low visibility, and for construction zones.

Inadequate training and poor maintenance

Inexperienced drivers with inadequate training have more driver errors including navigating turns and curves, steep hills, and maneuvering through heavy traffic.  Poorly maintained equipment also contributes to accidents.  Tire failure, brake failure, steering malfunctions, broken lights, and defective couplings are examples of poor maintenance.

Who is at fault?

The driver, trucking company, person who leases the truck, the loader or shipper of the cargo, and the manufacturer of the tires or parts that may have failed may all bear some responsibility for the accident.  If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, an experienced trucking accident attorney can help you recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, property damage to your vehicle, and pain and suffering.  Contact Ryan Montgomery Law today to discuss your case.