When commercial trucks are involved in a vehicle accident, the results can be serious, with life-altering injuries; oftentimes, these injuries can be catastrophic due to the size, weight, and force of the collision from the commercial truck’s impact; these truck accidents can be destructive.
Have you suffered serious injuries or catastrophic injuries due to a truck accident? Do you need help, a guiding hand? The professional truck accident lawyers at the Shiner Law Group are here to serve you! We will help you seek just compensation and receive a settlement for your injuries.
The competent lawyers at the Shiner Law Group have years of experience in managing personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents, commercial trucking accidents, long haul trucking accidents, 18-wheeler accidents, and tractor-trailer accidents.
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Reasons For Truck Accidents
Fatigued Truck Drivers
Truck drivers are constantly on the road and work long days; although there are specific guidelines as to how many hours a trucker is permitted to drive, many drivers are negligent, or their companies or truck operators put undue pressure on the drivers, and thus many take unnecessary risks and drive through the night in order to get their products from point a to point b.
As previously discussed, there are federal regulations that require drivers to spend a certain number of hours driving vs. a specific number of hours sleeping or resting. Drivers or companies usually do not follow proper federal safety regulations. This causes drivers to become fatigued and lose control of their trucks, causing dangerous road conditions for other drivers.
A review of the National Transportation Safety Board statistics detail that truck driver fatigue causes approximately 35% of all commercial truck accidents each year.
In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that driver fatigue plays a role in 30 to 40 percent of heavy truck accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides statistics on driver fatigue. They suggest that drivers get enough sleep and that drivers do not drive during the hours that their bodies are naturally sleepy (between 12 AM to 6 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM). Driver fatigue impairs response time, and it is best to pull off the road during those times to ensure the body gets enough sleep. They also recommend that drivers maintain a healthy diet and get exercise.
Although many companies are utilizing modern technology to schedule drivers’ times, these are typically ignored to maintain a tight delivery schedule. Some drivers believe that these new technology devices, which help log a driver’s time on the road, are an invasion of privacy; however, truck companies rely on these devices to monitor their driver’s activities.
Distracted Truck Drivers
Just as drivers or cars get distracted, truck drivers get distracted too. Distracting driving is a major cause of traffic accidents in the United States. Sharing the road with other drivers is always a risk; however, when drivers are distracted, the risk becomes more dangerous.
Fortunately, our legislative bodies are constantly trying to improve road hazards, such as distracted driving, to help limit the number of accidents each year and reduce the risk of injuries; accidents are sometimes unavoidable. As an example, the State of Florida is constantly educating drivers to “put it down,” which is meant to eliminate the use of cell phones while driving. Cell phones are not the only object that may distract drivers; drivers are always messing with their radios, GPS systems, smoking, eating, reaching for something on their seats or floor, or rubbernecking other roadside accidents. All these and many more can be a cause of distracted drivers, which can cause serious accidents.
Truck drivers maintain commercial driver’s licenses and are held to a higher standard; however, if you have ever seen the inside of a truck cab, you will see radios, C.B.s, several GPS systems, communication equipment, and sometimes a computer or T.V.s all distractions while driving on the road. Commercial truck drivers are prohibited from the use of cell phones and text messaging or web browsing while driving; that is why our lawyers at the Shiner Law Group look for the communication history of the drivers as well as the communications gear installed in the truck cab at the time of the accident.
Truck Drivers Health
Obesity and bad health practices are causes of concern for truck drivers. An article in the American Trucker titled “Health & Wellness: Trends in Trucking,” published on December 21, 2017, discusses the current trend within the trucking industry. It states that truck drivers tend to have higher than average health problems than the average American, including issues with smoking, diabetes, obesity, and overall stress. The article also talks about truck drivers’ irregular schedules, which can be a cause of lack of sleep and other health issues.
Obesity can cause sleep deprivation; the loss of sleep may be a major factor in truck crashes. With the complex schedules of truck drivers, the loss of additional sleep affects road awareness, and any form of “road tricks” to keep one awake may not help; truckers like to use tricks such as loud music, smoking, coffee, and talking on the phone to stay awake, however, sometimes these could cause more harm than good.
A poll conducted in 2015 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determined the following:
- 2.6% reported a crash in 2010
- 35% reported at least one crash during their time as an LHTD
- 24% reported at least one “near miss” within the last seven days of the poll being conducted
- 17% reported at least one moving violation ticketed
- 4.7% reported a non-crash injury involving days away from the job
- 68% of non-crash injuries were not reported to their employees
- 73% reported that their delivery schedules were unrealistic
- 24% reported driving while fatigued
- 4.5% reported driving at least 10 MPH or more above the stated speed limit
- 6% reported not wearing seat belts while driving
- 37% reported not being in compliance with hours of service rules
- 38% reported that their initial training was inadequate
- 15% reported that they did not feel the safety was a priority of their employers
*The study was conducted on 1265 Long Haul Truck Drivers (LHTD) at 32 rest stops across the United States for data collected in the year 2010
Obesity also is a major concern for the development of diabetes, diabetes also causes the loss of sleep but may also cause blurred vision, and as a professional truck driver, this symptom obviously does not help the truck drivers and places them and other drivers at greater risk. Additional symptoms of diabetes are high blood pressure, and left untreated puts drivers at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes, not a great combination when driving long hours. These health concerns do not just affect the lives of the drivers but those around them.
For Some Truck drivers, this is their second job after previously retiring!
The recruitment shortages within the trucking industry are well known, and many truck companies need to find qualified drivers quickly to maintain their tight schedules and ever-in-demand transportation needs of the U.S. Trucking companies are finding it more and more difficult to fill these open positions. These trucking companies are looking towards those who have retired from another job as prospective recruitment candidates. Having seniors driving commercial trucks may create potential dangers on the road for several reasons; poor eyesight, slow reaction time, and the hard hours on the road cause a young driver to lose sleep; just imagine what it might do to the elderly.
Currently, there are no laws placing restrictions on the age of drivers for commercial vehicles. However, as mentioned in a July 17, 2019 article in the Fright Waves online publication in 2010, there was a major shift within the trucking industry where wages or driver costs became the main concern among trucking companies, previously it used to be fuel costs, now due to the labor shortages, with the average age of a driver being between 45 and 50 their health and wellbeing became an important factor. When the ages of the drivers rise, one would expect to see an increase in accidents as well. Additionally, a bill introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to lower the minimum age of commercial truck drivers from 21 to 18 may also not make roads safer but make them more dangerous as younger drivers tend to not have the patients needed to be a commercial truck driver. All of these factors into commercial truck driving accidents.
Experience Counts When it comes to Truck Drivers!
We all would agree that an experienced truck driver is vital for safe roads; we would not want an inexperienced driver driving an 18-wheeler down the road with other motorists nearby. With a shortage of drivers, trucking companies are aggressively hiring anyone they can get their hands on; as we recently discussed above, trucking companies are recruiting retirees to fill spots, they are also working with their lobbyists in D.C. to try and change the laws to lower the age of Long Haul Truck Drivers from 21 to 18, allowing them to hire drivers with inexperience and possibly poor driving skills. With elderly drivers having issues with poor eyesight and slowing reaction times and younger drivers lack patience, this combination has the potential to wreak havoc on our roads. The shortage of drivers, the tight delivery schedules, the growth in transportation needs leads to aggressive hiring tactics from trucking companies and truck operators, and unfortunately, we believe this will lead to mistakes in hiring as well as driver error, where both drivers and the trucking companies may be at fault.
Better Rest areas are important!
While we have previously discussed the dangers of driving a truck and the lack of sleep that may make the roads dangerous, we haven’t discussed the lack of proper rest areas where trucks can park and drivers could rest. Most drivers have noticed that when pulling up to a rest area, trucks are parked back to back from the beginning of the off-ramp into the rest area, to the on-ramp exiting the rest area back to the highway and all over the rest stop. Truck drivers have mandatory break requirements and often pull off to rest, sleep and eat, and these areas are sometimes not properly maintained or not big enough for all of the commercial vehicles on the road. Drivers need areas where they can pull over safely, park, get out, stretch, eat, use the facilities, exercise, and take a hot shower.
Speak With An Injury Attorney today
The lawyers at the Shiner Law Group, P.A. believe more can be done to improve the safety issues, to stem the current trend within the industry. We also believe that the trucking companies, as well as the drivers’ representatives, have a duty to work with Congress to address these concerns. Safety standards must be improved, updated training requirements for drivers, along with continued driver education, yearly physicals, including hearing and eyesight tests must be conducted, keeping the age requirements and adding mandatory age retirements, better scheduling, and improved rest areas for drivers to park, sleep, eat, shower, rest, exercise, etc. will all help improve the lives and safety of the drivers and others on the road.
However, until that time, the lawyers at Shiner Law Group will diligently work with those that have been injured in trucking accidents or injured on the roads to ensure their injuries are resolved with a fair and equitable settlement. If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck, has been involved in a catastrophic injury due to negligence by the trucking industry, please call one of our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. We can be reached by phone at 561-777-7700 or by filling out our free online consultation request.