Large commercial trucks are an essential component of the American economy, transporting billions in goods across the nation each year. Trucks spend more time on the roads than any other type of vehicle, and truck drivers have one of the most demanding jobs in America. While trucks are essential for economic purposes, they are also inherently dangerous due to their large size. If you spend a lot of time driving, you should be very familiar with seeing large commercial trucks on the road near your vehicle. When you consider the size difference between the average 18-wheeler and a standard passenger car, it should be easy to see how potentially dangerous a truck accident can be.
Are Trucks More Dangerous Than Cars?
So, are trucks dangerous? The simple answer is yes, due to their sheer size and immense weight, trucks are vastly more dangerous than cars when it comes to vehicle accidents. The average fully loaded commercial truck can weigh nearly 80,000 pounds and stand close to 14 feet off the surface of the road. This means the truck has a higher center of gravity than most smaller cars and is more vulnerable to tipping over.
Trucks are also more vulnerable to momentum shifts, strong winds, and suddenly changing road conditions. Due to their size and weight, they are much harder to slow down and stop than a small passenger car. A truck can require several times the distance of a smaller car to slow down to complete stop if necessary, and some road changes can unfold so quickly that a truck driver cannot stop in time to avoid an accident.
Another reason trucks are more dangerous than cars is that truck accidents are more likely to result in catastrophic or fatal injuries. When two passenger cars collide, there is always a chance of those involved suffering severe or fatal injuries, but this chance is much higher when a large commercial truck is involved in an accident.
Why Is Truck Driving So Dangerous?
Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs for several reasons. First, the job requires the operation of some of the most inherently dangerous vehicles on the road. Second, operating a large commercial truck is much more difficult than driving a standard passenger vehicle (it requires a special commercial driver’s license). Finally, truck drivers spend long shifts on the road, leaving many vulnerable to strain and fatigue that can lead to accidents.
There are also several parties involved in every truck delivery in the US, and each of these parties could potentially bear liability for a truck accident should one occur. Consider the duties of care of the various parties involved in a standard trucking operation:
- The truck driver has a duty of care to safely operate the truck and abide by the rules of the road.
- The truck driver or the truck owner has a duty to ensure the truck is fit for service before every delivery.
- The team responsible for maintaining a truck must ensure the truck has all mechanical issues addressed as fully as possible and perform a thorough inspection.
- The delivery company that hires a truck driver must ensure the driver is experienced and trained to handle the job. They must also conduct an extensive background check on a driver before hiring them to ensure they are not a high-risk driver prone to dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
- The distributor responsible for loading a commercial truck must ensure the cargo is balanced and properly secured. Failure to balance a truck’s trailer appropriately can lead to a tip-over or rollover accident.
- The manufacturer that produced the truck and the parts the truck contains must ensure their products are free from defects and perform as intended.
When you analyze these factors, it should be easy to see how multiple parties can potentially bear liability for a truck accident.
What State Has the Most Truck Traffic?
Trucks are vital to the US economy, and the top three states for truck traffic include Texas, California, and Pennsylvania. More than 170,000 registered truck drivers are operating out of Texas, more than 130,000 registered truck drivers are in California, and more than 80,000 registered truck drivers are in Pennsylvania. These states have the highest levels of truck traffic and are therefore the most common states for truck accidents to occur.
Is Truck Driving the Most Dangerous Job?
Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. However, a few industries have higher accidental injury and fatality rates than the trucking industry. Construction, commercial logging, and the roofing industries are statistically more dangerous than trucking. However, when accidents occur in these fields, they typically only involve the employees of those fields, whereas truck accidents often harm more than just truck drivers.
How Can Semi Truck Accidents Be Prevented?
When it comes to how to prevent truck accidents, there is no easy answer. Many parties are involved in every trucking operation throughout the country, so there is always a risk of one party failing to uphold their duty of care and causing a truck accident. Every party involved in a trucking operation must do their part to ensure truck accidents do not happen:
- Truck drivers must adhere to all regulations upheld by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), including hours of service and required rest periods.
- Trucking companies must ensure appropriate background checks and hiring practices, so they do not employ dangerous drivers.
- Maintenance teams must be thorough and careful when performing mechanical maintenance on commercial trucks.
- Parties responsible for loading trucks must do so safely to ensure balanced and properly secured loads.
It is also vital for other drivers to know how to prevent truck accidents. Some truck accidents occur due to the actions of other drivers nearby. If you want to avoid a crash with a truck, it is always best to use extra caution when large trucks are nearby. Avoid lingering in trucks’ blind spots and refrain from any dangerous driving that could result in a truck accident.
What Are the Best Practices You Can Exhibit on the Roads to Avoid Accidents With Trucks?
If you want to know how to prevent truck accidents, consider a few tips:
- Never drive aggressively. When you are a defensive driver, you inherently reduce the risk of experiencing an accident. Take your time, stay alert, and follow posted traffic signals at all times.
- Refrain from driving under the influence (DUI). DUI is not only illegal but also incredibly dangerous. A truck driver may not be able to react in time to avoid a collision with an intoxicated driver.
- Give trucks plenty of space. Remember that if you drive a small passenger car directly behind a tractor-trailer, they cannot see you. Avoid tailgating at all times and give a nearby truck plenty of room.
- Conduct regular vehicle maintenance. Make sure you address any mechanical issues with your vehicle as soon as you discover them. Broken tail lights or brake lights can potentially interfere with other drivers’ ability to anticipate your movements.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict every potential action another driver may take on the road, but by doing your best to drive safely and abide by these best practices, you can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing a truck accident.
Determining Liability for a Truck Accident
If you are involved in any truck accident, you are sure to wonder about any potential legal options you may have following the incident. Trucking accidents are some of the most complex vehicle accidents due to the substantial damages they often entail, as the complex questions of liability often arise from these cases. The legal concept of “vicarious liability” may come into play depending on how your recent truck accident occurred.
Vicarious liability is a legal statute that applies when one party bears liability for the actions of another. In many truck accident claims, both the truck driver and their employer or another party bear liability for the damages. For example, if a truck driver caused the accident in question due to reckless driving, their employer could face vicarious liability if they did not conduct an appropriate hiring process and background check on the driver.
The complex issue of liability is just one reason it is crucial to speak with an experienced San Diego truck accidents attorney as soon as possible if you experience an event like this. Your legal team can help you determine which party or parties bear liability for your damages and increase the chances of securing acceptable compensation for your losses.
Find Your San Diego Truck Accidents Attorney Today
A truck accident can easily cause traumatic injuries that result in expensive medical bills, lost income, and substantial pain and suffering. If you have experienced a truck accident in the San Diego, CA, area recently, Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates can provide the legal representation you need to navigate your truck accident claim with confidence. Contact us today for more information about the legal services we offer, and we will let you know what you can expect from our firm.