What are the Most Common Ways Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?

March 31, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
What are the Most Common Ways Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?
What are the Most Common Ways Truck Drivers Cause Accidents

Our nation's highways serve multiple purposes, and you must share the roads with large tractor-trailers that haul goods vital to the economy. However, you also end up paying a price for the actions of truck drivers and their profit-hungry employers. They may cut all sorts of corners, leaving you and your loved one vulnerable to being seriously hurt in a truck accident.

Roughly 5,000 people lose their lives each year in accidents involving large trucks, and for every fatality, there are scores more who suffer serious injuries. A truck weighs, on average, 25 times more than a car, meaning there is a tremendous amount of force in a collision. In most cases, the passenger car driver and the occupants will not walk away from the accident unscathed. If the truck driver was to blame for the accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. First, you should contact an experienced Fort Worth truck accident lawyer to represent you in the legal process.

Your lawyer will get to the bottom of what happened. Before you file a lawsuit, you need to know the cause of the accident and have the evidence that proves your case. In the meantime, here are some ways that truck drivers and trucking companies can cause serious accidents.

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Truck Drivers Are More Inexperienced These Days

These days, trucking companies cannot find enough truck drivers because very few drivers are available for hire. Their older drivers are retiring, while others decide not to continue living on the road.

Trucking companies do not want to spend the money it takes to hire professional drivers. When given a choice between a less experienced driver who costs less money and a seasoned driver who is more expensive, the trucking company will opt to go cheaper.

Congress has listened to the trucking companies, and they have accepted the industry's explanation for the shortage of drivers. Recently, Congress passed a law that allows truck drivers as young as 18 to make cross-country trips. It takes a great deal of skill and experience to drive a truck. When fully loaded, these vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and drivers must constantly make decisions behind the wheel. Younger truck drivers do not have the judgment that comes from having been in certain situations before, and even a small mistake can lead to a significant accident.

Truck Drivers Work Under an Incredible Amount of Time Pressure

Truck Drivers Work Under an Incredible Amount of Time Pressure

Life on the road can be challenging for truck drivers, and it is not surprising that there are so many accidents. They must deliver their cargo when the customer demands prompt shipment. Customers do not want to hear any excuses for a late delivery because they are dealing with time constraints and motivations.

Thus, there is already a lot of pressure on the driver to deliver. The driver can only operate their truck during certain hours, and the service limitations are strict. The driver and the trucking company can face severe consequences for breaking these rules. However, The trucking companies may still determine that it is better to take the risk than anger a customer with a late delivery. Even if drivers want to be entirely safe, they may fear for their livelihood, and the pressure is even more intense when they work as independent contractors.

Truck Drivers May Not Follow Truck Driving Regulations

Truck drivers may cut corners before they even go out onto the road. They must inspect the vehicle before they begin their shift and can only drive if they have completed an inspection and the truck is in roadworthy condition. However, the truck driver may either skip the pre-trip inspection entirely or they may do a haphazard job on it. The driver may then head out onto the road without noticing a maintenance issue that they should have spotted.

Alternatively, they may have been afraid to pull the truck off the road because they fear facing repercussions from their employers. If they are independent contractors, the truck driver's business can be at risk when they take their truck out of service.

Drivers Break Rules About Operating Hours

Truck drivers may be on the road late at night to travel as much as they can during their limited hours of service. Less traffic means they can travel further in a limited time and may speed or drive aggressively when fewer vehicles are on the road. Even if the driver rests, their reflexes and body rhythm may differ at night, and they can be tired no matter what they do during the day.

The Rigors of Driving Can Make the Operator Fatigued

Fatigue Truck Driver

Then, the driver is behind the wheel for long periods. Physically, it is uncomfortable for the driver, and from a health perspective, the driver may not have the healthiest habits. They may not exercise, eat right, or get the proper sleep. The duration of their trip can begin to wear them down, both physically and mentally. Fatigued driving is hazardous, and if a driver does not get enough sleep, it can be every bit as dangerous as drunk driving. However, time is not the truck driver's friend, and they will prioritize getting there on time at the expense of your safety.

Behind the wheel, some truck drivers can be a menace to other drivers on the road. They have control of a massive vehicle; your life is literally in the truck driver's hands whenever you are on the road together.

The Truck Driver May Be Doing Other Things Behind the Wheel

Texting Truck Driver

You must also understand the truck driver's potential driving habits. Since they are on the road for extended periods, they may want to avoid pulling over to read or send a text and may be looking down at their mobile device while they are driving. A truck can travel over 500 feet in the amount of time it takes a driver to read or send a text. The driver can also be eating behind the wheel because they do not want to take the time to stop.

Truck Drivers May Speed to Go as Far as Possible

Truck drivers are also looking to travel as far as they can while they are allowed to drive, and to maximize their distance, they may exceed the speed limit. Truck drivers are speeding in increasing numbers, especially as they must do everything possible to please their employers or clients. The percentage of truck drivers who speed spiked during the COVID pandemic and in the resulting supply chain disruptions. Roughly seven percent of fatal truck accidents involved excessive speeds.

When drivers are speeding, they are more likely to lose control of their vehicle or make a steering error. Truck drivers need time to respond to challenges on the road. It takes time to apply the brakes, and sudden steering maneuvers can cause a rollover accident.

Safe truck driving is about more than just traveling at the speed limit; the driver must drive at a reasonable rate for the conditions. If traffic is heavy or there are adverse weather conditions, they may even need to go slower than the speed limit.

Trucking Companies Can Cause Accidents with Their Carelessness

Truck drivers are not always the ones who cause accidents, and they may do everything possible to be safe behind the wheel. However, trucking companies can make it virtually impossible for their truck driver to reach their destination safely.

Trucking companies have motivations to please their clients. People tend to blame the individual driver for what happened, but they are often under pressure from their supervisors.

Substance Abuse is a Problem in the Trucking Industry and Can Lead to Accidents

Substance Abuse is a Problem in the Trucking Industry and Can Lead to Accidents

Many people do not realize that substance abuse has become a growing issue in the trucking industry. While trucking companies must perform certain tests on drivers, they do not prevent all impaired driving.

The long hours and demanding nature of the job can lead some truck drivers to turn to substances to cope with the pressures and fatigue. This can impair their judgment, reaction time, and overall ability to operate their vehicles safely. Whether it's the use of stimulants to stay awake or the consumption of alcohol to unwind after a long haul, substance abuse can have detrimental effects on a truck driver's performance.

Of course, not all truck drivers engage in substance abuse. Many responsible and professional drivers prioritize safety and adhere to strict regulations. However, the unfortunate reality is that there are individuals within the industry who succumb to the temptation of drugs and alcohol.

This is where hiring a lawyer can make a significant difference for truck accident victims. A skilled attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and determine if substance abuse played a role. They can gather evidence such as toxicology reports and witness testimonies to build a strong case that highlights the negligence of the truck driver and the trucking company. By holding them accountable for their actions, victims can seek compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Your Truck Accident Lawyer Will Establish What Happened

Your attorney will thoroughly investigate what happened after your injury in an accident. One of the first things you need to know is who you can sue.

Trucking companies will be legally responsible for the actions of their drivers when they occur within the scope of the driver's employment. The truck driver is an agent of the company for which they work, and under long-established principles of law, an employee and their employer are the same legal entity.

You can use the trucking companies' insurance coverage and assets to pay for your injuries. Federal law requires trucking companies to carry insurance coverage of at least $750,000, and they will usually have at least $1 million in coverage. If the trucking companies do not have enough insurance coverage to pay for your damages, you can go after their assets. Some verdicts have been large enough to wipe them out completely.

Why You Need to Get a Truck Accident Attorney Quickly

You need legal representation as soon as possible after your truck accident. Because you have suffered serious injuries, and there is more money on the line, the insurance companies will be playing for keeps. They may get defensive quickly so they can posture ahead of time for what they expect will be a substantial claim. They can try to pressure you or do anything to hamstring your legal rights.

You must immediately get legal help because you can lose valuable evidence in a hurry that you need to prove your case. Trucking companies may even somehow "lose" relevant documentation in their possession. Your attorney will immediately send a litigation hold letter directing them to preserve all evidence. There can be significant consequences for trucking companies that ignore this letter, as an angry jury can slam them with a large punitive damages verdict.

It also takes time to prepare your legal case. Given the stakes of a truck accident claim, you cannot rush anything. You must put your best legal foot forward with compelling evidence and a persuasive estimate of damages. It takes time for a lawyer to reach that point, and you must give them time to work while the clock runs. The best thing is to call them after an accident or have a loved one do it for you.

It Does Not Cost Anything Out of Pocket to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

Fort Worth Truck Accident Lawyer, Michael Francis

You do not have to come up with much money to pay a lawyer when they take your case; you never have to write your lawyer a check for their legal services. You will sign a representation agreement that promises they receive a certain percentage of your recovery should you receive one. You will not be in a financial hole if you do not get a settlement or a jury award because your lawyer will not get paid for the time and effort they put into your case. Thus, you are not risking anything by hiring a injury attorney in Fort Worth.