What are the most common factors in collisions between commercial trucks and automobiles?
The average motor vehicle weighs approximately 3,000 pounds, and a fully-loaded commercial truck can easily weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Collisions that involve commercial trucks often produce more serious injuries and damage than other types of car accidents. The size, weight, and cargo load of a commercial truck makes them more difficult to operate and puts other vehicles on the road at risk. Because of this, commercial truck operators are typically held to higher legal standards and must follow more stringent driving rules.
Commercial truck accidents can have a number of causes, and the direct cause is not always clear. Some accidents are evidence of driver negligence (i.e. running a red light or merging unsafely), and others may be caused by outside factors (i.e. inclement weather or defective truck parts). Common causes of commercial truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving, which may include texting while driving, checking email, eating, drinking, talking to other passengers, changing the radio station, reaching for something in the backseat, reading (including maps or work materials), or typing into a navigation system. Distracted driving continues to be a major problem on American roads, accounting for about 16 percent of all fatal crashes. At any given time, more than 600,000 drivers are manipulating electronic devices, contributing to more than 3,300 distracted-related fatalities every year.
- Driving under the influence, including drunk driving, drugged driving, and driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Approximately 30 people are killed every day in drunk-driving accidents, adding up to more than 10,000 fatalities in 2010. Driving under the influence accounts for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths nationwide.
- Reckless driving, including speeding, failure to stop at stop signs or red lights, failure to yield, aggressive driving, failure to adjust for weather conditions, failure to pull over for emergency vehicles, failure to merge safely, and tailgating.
- Defective car parts, including air bags, brakes, seat belts, tires, wiring, and fuel tanks. Tractor-trailers can also be found defective if the overall structure is unsafe or it lacks proper safety equipment.
- Unsafe roadways, including failure to address serious maintenance problems, improper lane width or grading, and curves that are too sharp for the posted speed limit.
- Inclement weather, such as snow, ice, heavy rain, fog, or other hazardous weather conditions. More than 1.5 million weather-related car accidents occur every year, including 707,000 rain-related crashes and 225,000 snow-related crashes. Inclement weather is a contributing factor in nearly one-fourth of all car accidents, according to the U.S Department of Transportation.
Depending on what happened in the minutes leading up to the accident, you could have a personal injury case against the truck driver, the trucking company, or another relevant party. The best way to figure out whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit is to contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney will know how to obtain medical records, police reports, driving logs, maintenance records, witness statements, and any other evidence that will help piece together the cause of the accident.