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Know Your Risk: Factors that Can Cause Eighteen Wheeler Accidents

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If you are in an auto accident in Atlanta, it is important to know what steps to take to protect yourself at the scene. Call the Marks Law Group at 404-939-1485 for help. Photo Credit: Carlos Ebert via Flickr Creative Commons.

Eighteen Wheeler Accidents More Common

According to the Federal Motor Carry Safety Administration (FMCSA), “In 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 9-percent increase from 2016.” With fatality rates on the rise in recent years, we know that eighteen-wheeler accidents are a real threat that all drivers should work to prevent. Truck drivers are highly trained: most work hard to follow the rules of the road and keep drivers safe. In our recent article, we detailed some ways drivers of passenger vehicles can work to keep themselves and others safe, while sharing the road with eighteen-wheelers.

At Marks Law Group, we want to offer you a wealth of information on the issues that impact you and your loved ones.  This article dives deeper into some reasons eighteen-wheeler accidents and fatalities might occur based on recent incidents.

Accidents involving Student Drivers

Truck drivers must receive a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and many also attend driving school. There are specific regulations about how much training drivers must complete, including observation time. 

Inexperienced drivers and drivers-in-training are still learning to respond to weather conditions and traffic conditions, and they are becoming accustomed to pulling a loaded trailer. 

Unfortunately, accidents involving new truck drivers do happen. 

Student Truck Driver Logs No Observation Time, $40 Million Verdict Awarded to Plaintiff’s Family

A recent case against the trucking company Werner, which resulted in a $40 million verdict, involved a student truck driver and woman who was driving a passenger vehicle. The woman was killed when the student driver crossed four lanes of traffic and hit her car head on. Sadly, she died at the scene. 

According to reports, the student driver drove unsupervised more than half the time during his first four days of training. 

While both he and his trainer were required to observe one another, neither logged any observation time. Despite this inadequate training, Werner continued to assign “just-in-time” deliveries to this new driver. Just-in-time deliveries are expedited deliveries to customers, often under time constraints. This method saves money and can help streamline inventory, but this system also increases the pressure on drivers. 

In the incident described here, the demands of just-in-time delivery, the student driver’s lack of experience, and the trainer’s lack of oversight all could have contributed to the fatality.

Five Members of Same Family Killed or Injured 

This was not the first time Werner was taken to court. The company was also hit with a $90 million verdict for a 2014 accident that killed two members of a family, and injured three other members. 

In this case, the student driver was on a just-in-time delivery and driving in icy conditions. Witnesses at the trial stated that Werner did not allow the driver access to basic safety equipment, like an external temperature gauge or CB radio.

Other Risk Factors Involving Eighteen Wheelers

Many situations can occur on the roadways that put you and your family at risk. It is important to be proactive and aware. It is also helpful to know more about eighteen wheelers and what you can do to share the road with them safely. 

We recently published an article on tips for staying safe while driving among eighteen wheelers, and we encourage you to check it out here

Factors Involved in Large Truck and Bus Crashes 

1. Tires

The large, heavy tires on eighteen wheelers can pose a danger to other drivers, especially if they are defective. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2017 “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” report, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) have highlighted that exceeding tire speed ratings, increased front axle loads, and increased uptime/equipment utilization have led to increased tire failures on commercial trucks.”

This means that speeding, heavily-loaded trucks, and heavily used equipment can all impact tire safety.

While a typical driver of a passenger vehicle cannot identify these risk factors, you can exercise caution near eighteen wheelers by avoiding their blind spots and avoiding tailgating.

2. Location

Another factor that might help keep you safe is knowing that accidents involving eighteen wheelers can be more likely to happen in particular areas. According to FMSCA,

“Fatal crashes involving large trucks often occur in rural areas and on Interstate highways. Approximately 57 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas, 27 percent occurred on Interstate highways, and 13 percent fell into both categories by occurring on rural Interstate highways.”

When driving in these areas, it is important to stay aware and exercise caution.

3. Time

The time of day you are on the road can also increase chances of having a crash. FMCSA notes that

“Thirty-five percent of all fatal crashes, 22 percent of all injury crashes, and 20 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).”

Day of the week matters, too:

“The vast majority of fatal crashes (83 percent) and nonfatal crashes (88 percent) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).

4. Speed

People-related factors that caused crashes in 2017 according to the FMSCA included speeding, distracted driving, and substance abuse, with speeding contributing to the most fatalities of the three:

 “In 2017, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes, compared to 54 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. ‘Speeding of Any Kind’ was the most frequent driver-related factor for drivers of both vehicle types; ‘Distraction/Inattention’ was the second most common for large truck drivers…”.

Of note here is that speeding by passenger vehicles was identified at a higher percentage than speeding by truck drivers: passenger vehicle drivers simply must do their part to follow the rules of the road, abide by speed limits, avoid distracted driving, and know how to stay safe around eighteen wheelers. 

Final Thoughts

Aaron Marks is a highly skilled, community oriented lawyer who is dedicated to fighting for the restitution you deserve after an eighteen wheeler accident.

At Marks Law Group, our number one priority is helping people. We want to support the members of our community in Decatur and in the larger metro Atlanta metro area by providing information you can use to stay safe. 

If you ever need our services, especially if you or a loved one has been injured in an eighteen wheeler accident, please know that we are here for you. We will support you through the process of getting the care and compensation you deserve. Call us at 404-998-4072 if you need to talk. We’re here for you.

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be informational only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Sources used to prepare this article are linked above. 

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