Leading Causes of New Jersey Semi-Truck CollisionsNew Jersey Legal News
In the aftermath of any severe car crash, one of the first things that will likely cross the minds of those involved in the accident is, “How did this happen?” This is even more relevant following a crash involving a commercial semi-truck, due to the severity of the injuries and the massive lawsuits that often come with it. The reasons for wanting this answer may very. Perhaps, the injured party and his or her lawyer wants to know whose negligence is responsible for the accident, while the trucking company and regulatory agencies could be motivated to determine how they can potentially reduce the chance of s similar collisions in the future. Despite individual motivation, the search for answers usually starts with the vehicle’s driver, then progresses to the vehicle itself, then to the circumstances surrounding the collision. Any or all of these sources could tell a small part of what happened. By thoroughly exploring the factors involved in the collision, you and your lawyer can create a complete picture of what took place.
It may be overly simplistic to assign blame with the truck driver in all crashes involving an 18-wheeler, but driver error is also a common cause of semi-truck crashes. These drivers put in long hours performing a task that is both monotonous and mentally demanding, all while facing intense pressure from their employers to keep to a strict work schedule. These stresses can contribute to a disastrous crash when you consider that even a slight error, such a brief lapse of attention, can cost the driver the control of a nearly 40-ton vehicle that is traveling upwards of 65 miles per hour, if not more in some cases. There are many ways that driver error can contribute to a crash involving a commercial vehicle.
The routes traveled by commercial transportation vehicle driers often extend for hundreds or even thousands of miles across the country, and these long drivers can leave truckers extremely exhausted. The federal law mandates that truck drivers are not allowed to stay behind the wheel for periods exceeding 11 hours after a required off-duty period of 10 hours. However, some truckers will face pressure from their employers to bend these rules in order to complete a route on time. A fatigued trucker is often less observant of their surroundings, has delayed reaction time, poor judgment, and will more easily lose their concentration — outside of the risk of falling asleep while operating a massive big rig. Insufficient sleep can prove a fatal driver error.
Law enforcement and safety advocates have been working to make driers more aware of the dangers associated with engaging with distracting behaviors behind the wheel, especially the use of mobile devices. Because truck drivers spend such long periods of time on the road, the temptation to multitask can be even greater, but the risks are no less serious. Making phone calls, using a GPS system, and especially texting and divert a driver’s eyes, hands, and attention from the road. Texting while operating a big rig is illegal under federal law, but many drivers continue to do so anyway, despite the known dangers.
Whether because of the pressure of meeting tight schedules day after day, an attempt to stay awake during long shifts, or just simple recklessness, some commercial truck drivers, drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, or misuse prescription medications while operating their rigs. Federal regulations mandate drug screening as a requirement for hiring a semi-truck driver, with random screenings thereafter, but some reckless individuals still make it onto the road.
Unsafe Driving Habits
When drivers engage in certain behaviors behind the wheel, the risk of a crash can be even greater for an otherwise focused driver. A major safety issue is speeding, both because the temptation to exceed the speed limit is high due to strict deadlines placed on commercial drivers and excessive speeds make a truck much more fatal in the event of a crash. Speeding can cause truck rollovers, and when the rig is following another car too closely, it could even result in a devastating override crash. Other hazardous driving behaviors include failing to check the truck’s blind spots, frequent lane changes, failure to use turn signals, and neglecting to adjust speed and braking distance to accommodate for dangerous weather conditions.
Neglecting Vehicle Inspections
Under federal law, a commercial truck driver is required to inspect his or her vehicle before starting a trip. This is meant to catch any obvious and easily-identified issues before they lead to a crash. Neglecting to perform these inspections could result in driving with under-inflated tires, fluid leaks, inoperative lights, faulty trailer couplings, or dangerously secured loads.
It’s often easy to throw accusations at the driver, but other factors can also contribute to a crash. Improper maintenance or repair can result in mechanical failure, and uneven loading of the trailer can result in dangerous truck imbalances. Careful investigation by your lawyer can help uncover the real cause of an accident.
New Jersey Semi-Truck Crashes
Being involved in a crash with a large commercial vehicle can be devastating. On average, 5,000 occupants of passenger vehicles are killed in commercial vehicle accidents each year. An astounding 67 percent of fatal semi-truck accidents involve those traveling in passenger cars.
Truckers are liable to cause a crash for many reasons. Long hours and the stress of meeting a tight deadline can lead to truck drivers making critical errors on the road. In some cases, injured parties can contact a qualified New Jersey trucking injury lawyer to discuss possible avenues for compensation.
The team at Brady, Brady, & Reilly, LLC is here to help you recover after being seriously injured in a big rig accident. We’ve helped countless victims recover the compensation they deserve after a collision. Contact our law offices at (201) 997- 0030 if you or a loved one has been unfairly injured by a negligent truck driver.