Considering the massive size and weight of their vehicles, commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to drive with care and regard for others on the road. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that, in accidents involving a large truck and another vehicle, the driver or occupants of the smaller vehicle are over four times more likely to be killed than the truck driver.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury in a truck accident, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help. We are committed to holding the negligent party accountable. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, using our resources to interview witnesses, collect police reports, and obtain medical evidence.
Our years of experience have given us the tools and resources to stand up to large corporations, manufacturers, and opposing attorneys alike. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact us today for a free consultation. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers.
Truck Safety Tips
Truck drivers play an important part in keeping our roads safe, and following certain safety measures can greatly reduce the risk of injuries or death:
- Buckle up: Drivers involved in a crash who aren’t wearing a seatbelt are 25 times more likely to suffer serious or even fatal injuries. Seatbelts are a simple way to protect yourself from being thrown from the vehicle, dragged on the road, or crushed by another vehicle.
- Pay attention: Distracted driving is a bigger problem than ever, with more than 3,300 distraction-related deaths and 421,000 distraction-related injuries in 2012. More than 80 percent of drivers think distracted driving is a serious problem and that is makes them feel unsafe on the road. In addition, it’s crucial for commercial truck drivers to pay attention to weather conditions; approximately 25 percent of speeding-related truck fatalities occur in adverse weather conditions. Truck drivers are advised to reduce speed by one-third on wet roads and by half (or more) in snowy conditions.
- Slow down: The speed limits on sharp curves, entrance ramps, and exit ramps are intended for small vehicles, not large trucks. Therefore, semi trucks should slow down more than the posted speed limits to avoid losing control or rolling over.
- Check blind spots: Truck drivers should check their mirrors every 5-8 seconds, as well as before changing lanes, turning, or merging. Commercial trucks have large blind spots or “no zones,” and checking these frequently will help drivers keep track of traffic patterns.
- Allow enough time: Truck drivers need to allow at least 15 seconds ahead to safely slow down, especially in adverse weather conditions. Because of their size and high centers of gravity, semi trucks need much more time to slow down than a passenger vehicle.
- Drive rested: According to research, being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. Semi truck drivers must comply with hours of service regulations to avoid driving tired, and at the first signs of drowsiness (i.e. frequent yawning, heavy eyes, blurred vision), they should pull over and not put other drivers in danger.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Safety is everyone’s responsibility, but few vehicles on the roads are as huge and heavy as a semi truck. With long-haul trucking forming the backbone of US industry, shipping products and materials back and forth across the country every day, semi-trucks are a constant sight on the highway. Several times larger than most cars, carrying tons and tons of cargo on top of their already large mass, long-haul trucks can utterly demolish a smaller vehicle in the event of a collision.
Truck drivers are trained professionals, and they often take extra care to maintain good driving practices. But deadlines can be unforgiving, and deliveries can be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Many truck drivers sacrifice sleep to shave off time on their shipments, and others make traffic laws secondary to getting there on time. Anyone can make a mistake, a lapse in judgement or attention—but when it happens behind the wheel of something as massive as a semi, the consequences can be devastating. When a professional makes a mistake, he and his employer must be held responsible.
There are several common causes of commercial truck accidents, including:
Driver negligence, including fatigue, distractions, speeding, and careless or reckless driving. Drivers are required to follow hours of service regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Truck drivers are limited to 11 hours driving per day and 14-hour workdays. Drivers are not allowed to work more than 70 hours per week without resting for 34 consecutive hours, and drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Driver negligence also includes rear-end truck accidents. Trucks require a much greater stopping distance to stop than cars, and the heavier the truck, the greater the distance needed to stop. When cars or truck drivers fail to realize the distance needed to stop, the risk of a rear-end collision increases; truck drivers and other vehicles need to understand the distance discrepancy between cars and trucks, and drive accordingly.
Driver error is ten times more likely to be the cause of a trucking accident than other factors, including weather, road conditions, and vehicle performance, according to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Substance abuse, most commonly involving drugs to stay awake. The use of prescription drugs, over-the-counter energy pills, or illicit drugs affect a driver’s judgment and can contribute to deadly accidents.
Defects, including insufficient lighting, worn brakes, overweight trailers, or lack of reflective surfaces. Equipment failure as a result of manufacturing or design defects opens up the truck manufacturer to liability for crash-related injuries.
Defective roadways, including improper grading, uneven lanes, or construction hazards, can cause trucking accidents. These types of cases often take significant investigation to uncover the road problem and figure out who is responsible.
Company negligence, including improper training of the truck driver or lack of maintenance of the commercial truck. Failure to service brakes, change tires, secure cargo, properly attach the trailer, or attend to other maintenance needs creates a dangerous situation for the truck driver, other motorists on the road, and the trucking company or lessor.
A study from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that traveling in poor weather, driving on curved roads, and driving at speeds of 55 mph or higher significantly increase the risk of rollover and jackknife for large trucks.
Contact a New Jersey Trucking Accident Lawyer
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi are proud to represent the injured throughout New Jersey and New York. Since opening our doors in 1974, we have been committed to the highest standards of excellence in personal injury litigation. Our million-dollar and multi-million-dollar settlements have earned us inclusion in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, of which fewer than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi was named to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Firms list of 2013, and Michael Maggiano and Christopher DiGirolamo have received the highest possible ratings as car accident attorneys by the AVVO Lawyer Ratings service.
With more than 80 years’ worth of combined trial experience, we are prepared to investigate your claim and fight to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact us to discuss your legal options. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation today.