Every day on our roads and highways, semi-truck accidents claim lives and cause irreparable injuries. All too often, semi-truck accidents are the result of carelessness or recklessness on the part of the truck driver, such as speeding, distractions, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Trucking companies may routinely overload their vehicles and/or fail to maintain them properly. Over recent years the government has passed legislation in an attempt to cut back on truck accidents. The government has enforced different laws to ensure safer trucking and minimize the risk of accidents. The trucking companies have also increased safety procedures as well as provided increased training and awareness for their trucking staff. Today, in the United States alone, there are over two million more registered trucks on the road than there was over a decade ago, increasing the risk of an accident. In 2005, commercial vehicles registered in the United States totaled 5,304,567.
Heavy trucks are involved in many serious traffic accidents due to their large weight, high centers of gravity, decreased visibility, poor handling and reduced braking efficiency. Truck tires and brakes also behave differently from those of passenger vehicles and require special consideration. Semi-truck accidents are likely to cause especially serious injuries and resulting disabilities, including severe broken bones, loss of limbs, spinal cord injuries, paraplegia, quadriplegia, loss of cognitive functioning, and severe brain injury. Truck accidents often result in accidental or wrongful death. There are many reasons that a truck accident may occur. Some of the more common causes include:
- Inadequate truck driver training
- Improper loading/overloading of the truck
- The driver is tired due to driving for long periods
- Poor vehicle maintenance or improper safety equipment
- Difficulty seeing blind spots from a large truck
- Being cut off by another vehicle
- Aggressive driving by another vehicle or by a truck driver
- Cell phone use
Truck accidents may account for only a small percentage of highway accidents, yet when a semi is involved in a wreck, the force of destruction is catastrophic. At the cornerstone of the safety plan for truckers are the restrictions of how many hours a trucker can operate his rig without rest periods. The law has recognized that driver fatigue is a major contributor to mayhem on the roads. The enforcement of such regulations centers on the driver logs and the auditing of what are often falsified records.
Safety in the cab doesn't start and end with the driver. The carriers have a responsibility for ensuring that motorists are not exposed to unqualified or unsafe drivers. Each regulation imposed on a driver creates a related duty upon the carrier to ensure that the pursuit of profit doesn't take precedence over safety.