How Being Late or In a Rush Increases the Risk of Truck Accidents
Commercial truck drivers face intense pressure to transport and deliver cargo on time. Whether it is the driver of an 18-wheeler, a delivery truck, or other commercial vehicle, strict and sometimes unrealistic time tables are a reality throughout the trucking industry.
Truck drivers who are behind schedule or in a rush are much more likely to be involved in an accident. A Fort Lee truck accident lawyer can investigate the crash to determine if the truck driver and any additional parties put speed ahead of safety and caused the collision.
Safety Concerns When Truck Drivers Are Late or Rushing
Most drivers can relate to the feelings of stress and panic that occur when we’re behind schedule. Whether it’s hurrying to get to work, pick up the kids from school, or get to an appointment on time, everyone has felt the need to rush when they are behind the wheel.
The situation is different for truck drivers. Operators of large trucks are governed not only by traffic laws but federal regulations designed to make truck drivers and their employers prioritize safety.
Unfortunately, safety and the stress of the job often clash. When they do and the truck driver is running late, rushing to make up for lost time tends to take precedence. This often gives rise to a number of careless behaviors that can lead to a truck accident:
1. Excess Speed
Speeding is a serious offense in the trucking industry. Truck drivers who travel 15 mph or more over the posted speed limit face disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle for a minimum of 60 days (see the Code of Federal Regulations § 383.51(c)). And yet, truck drivers routinely go over the speed limit in order to stay on schedule and/or gain ground when they fall behind.
Exceeding the speed limit increases the risk of an accident for a number of reasons, including:
- Increased stopping distance
- Less time to react to hazards
- Reduced control behind the wheel
Speeding also increases the force of the impact in the event of an accident. Given the massive size of commercial trucks, trucking accidents where excess speed is a factor are often devastating.
Following another driver too close can be a recipe for disaster. This is especially the case when the vehicle in the rear is a fully loaded semi that weighs 80,000 pounds.
Truck drivers often tailgate in an effort to intimidate the other driver into changing lanes. Although truck drivers might take part in this kind of reckless behavior for a variety of reasons, being late or in a rush is a major contributor to rear-end collisions involving semi-trucks.
3. Unsafe Lane Changes
Weaving in and out of traffic is one of the most common types of reckless driving. Again, the massive size and weight of commercial trucks amplifies the danger of a behavior that commonly arises when the driver is rushing.
The “no zones” on large trucks make extra caution necessary when changing lanes. Unfortunately, truck drivers who are in a hurry or behind schedule might fail to take the time to check their blind spots, resulting in a truck accident with the vehicle(s) in the next lane.
4. Ignoring Stop Signs and Red Lights
Intersections are common locations for accidents. The failure to yield or come to a stop accounts for a large portion of collisions at intersections.
Careless, reckless, and aggressive driving all increase when drivers run late. When the driver who runs a red light or stop sign is operating a commercial truck, the consequences for other motorists in the intersection can be catastrophic.
5. Distracted Driving
Most distracted driving accidents occur because the driver is trying to multitask. Truck drivers are not immune from this issue. In fact, truck accidents where distracted driving is a factor often arise because the truck driver is attempting to stay on schedule and/or make up for being late.
Whether they are stuck in traffic or get lost, truck drivers often turn to distractions like talking on the phone or radio or operating smartphone apps and GPS devices. Section 392.82 of the Code of Federal Regulations specifically prohibits commercial drivers from using a handheld mobile phone because of the potential for causing truck accidents.
Why Does Falling Behind Schedule Lead to Truck Accidents?
As you can see, rushing and being late are major contributors to negligent actions on the part of a truck driver that can lead to trucking accidents. But what is the root cause of these collisions?
Stress is an underexplored issue when it comes to understanding accidents. The effects of anxiety are particularly pronounced among commercial drivers, for whom being on time is central to their livelihood.
Urban environments are especially stressful for truck drivers. Crowded metropolitan areas are prone to traffic jams and complex interchanges. Truck drivers operating in these areas are likely to face delays, fall behind schedule, and even get lost.
All of these issues create enormous stress that can diminish driving performance. Truck drivers who are in a rush are likely to become overwhelmed, resulting in a higher likelihood of the driver taking unnecessary chances and making rash decisions. In addition, fraught driving situations increase driver fatigue, which also increases the likelihood of a crash.
Are Truck Drivers Liable for Accidents They Cause When They Are Late or In a Rush?
Trucking companies and insurance companies like to argue that everyone makes mistakes. We’ve all been stressed and driven a little faster than we should when we’ve been running late, they say. As such, they argue that truck drivers shouldn’t be punished for a mistake, especially given the pressures of the job.
However, truck accidents don’t just “happen.” They often involve violations of the federal regulations designed to reduce collisions and penalize drivers who operate big rigs unsafely.
An experienced Fort Lee truck accident lawyer will know what evidence needs to be introduced to demonstrate that the truck driver broke the rules and, regardless of the pressure he/she was under, should be held accountable for your injuries. Your attorney will also investigate to determine if the trucking company imposed an unrealistic time table or pressured the driver into violating the hours of service regulations.
Liability for a truck accident often rests with multiple parties. It is important to hire a lawyer who can assess the evidence, determine the cause of the accident, and identify all of the parties that should be included in your claim.
Being involved in a truck accident is a traumatic experience. It is often difficult to know what caused the crash, and you may need to be taken to the hospital right away for treatment of serious injuries.
Getting to the bottom of the truck accident on your own is not easy. The Fort Lee truck accident lawyers at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can investigate the crash, collect evidence on your behalf, and build a strong claim against the parties responsible.
To recover maximum compensation, it is generally necessary to look beyond the driver of the truck to other individuals and companies whose negligence contributed to the truck accident. Our attorneys have the experience and tenacity you need to achieve a favorable outcome.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free case review. Our truck accident lawyers serve clients in Fort Lee and throughout New Jersey and New York.