Truck accidents are some of the most serious and deadly types of accidents. Often, their cause is preventable or easily avoidable. When truck drivers and trucking companies exhibit carelessness and negligence, however, collisions are guaranteed.
Here are the most common causes of truck accidents in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and what you can do to get the legal help you need after you or someone you love were injured in a collision with a large commercial truck.
Generally, truck drivers aren’t paid salary or even by the hour. Instead, they are paid per mile driven. This means that truck drivers are only earning money when they are driving; they don’t get paid when they are sleeping, eating, showering, or taking breaks.
Although there are laws that mandate a driver only operate their truck for a certain number of consecutive hours, many truck drivers encouraged or forced to ignore it. This may be the result of a trucking company pressuring their drivers to make deliveries by a certain time, or by drivers working as long as they can to earn as much as they can.
Fatigue impairs the senses and response time as much as alcohol does, and drowsy driving can result in serious and even deadly collisions. Many truck drivers involved in accidents have been found to have exceeded their driving limitations or were extremely fatigued at the time of the incident.
Speeding is a major cause of all types of motor vehicle accidents, including truck collisions. However, because commercial trucks are so large and heavy, speeding is much more dangerous for them compared to passenger vehicles. Collisions that occur when a truck is going too fast tend to result in critical injury and death at a much higher rate than collisions that occur when a motor vehicle is speeding.
Large trucks take longer to slow down or come to a stop when the weather is bad and the roads are wet, snowy, or icy. Truck drivers have a responsibility to account for this and should be trained to allow extra time for braking. Cities and municipalities also have a responsibility to warn drivers when bridges will freeze faster than roads or when roads aren’t in good enough condition to accommodate a large truck.
Inadequate Driver Training
Driving a large commercial truck is nothing like driving a car, motorcycle, or even a light duty truck. Truck drivers require a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and must be able to pass a written and road skills test. However, trucking companies are often too eager to get a new hire out on the road making deliveries and fail to provide them with adequate training.
When truck drivers don’t know how to maneuver a large truck in a wide variety of situations, they can easily cause an accident. This frequently occurs in towns, when commercial trucks have to take wide turns or have difficulty fitting into intersections.
Poor Truck Maintenance
A trucking company should keep their trucks in good working order. If the driver is an owner/operator, they have the same responsibility. Failure to maintain a truck’s critical systems can lead to entirely preventable accidents, which the driver and/or trucking company may be held legally and financially liable for.
For example, if a truck’s brakes begin to wear down, waiting to replace them could be detrimental if the brakes go out when hauling a particularly heavy load. The truck could collide with the vehicle in front of them at full speed, potentially even resulting in a multi-car pileup depending on how fast the truck was going.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are as susceptible to drinking and driving as the general population, if not more so. In many cases, truck drivers are intoxicated by drugs instead of alcohol at the time of an accident. For example, a driver may have taken illegal or over the counter “uppers” to keep them awake enough to drive long hours, resulting in them feeling jittery, having poor motor control, and overall being unsafe to operate their vehicle. Truck drivers in every accident case should submit to complete drug and alcohol testing to determine if they were under the influence of any type of altering substance at the time of the collision. This includes prescription drugs that may have affected their coordination or ability to operate heavy machinery.
Improper Cargo Placement
Trucks are designed to haul heavy cargo over long distances, but how that cargo is loaded and carried impacts how a truck handles on the road. Improperly placed cargo can affect how much time it takes for a driver to come to a stop and how quickly they are able to accelerate after stopping.
It can also cause the trailer or truck bed to become unstable and make the truck drift or sway when driving. If a truck is underloaded or overloaded, this can also impact how the driver is able to maneuver the vehicle, especially at high speeds or in inclement weather.
Hurt in a Truck Accident? We Can Help You Find Who Is Responsible
Were you or someone you love injured in a truck accident? At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we understand the challenges ahead. Identifying the at-fault party or parties is the first step to recovering the full and fair compensation you deserve for the losses you incurred as a result of the collision. We can help you identify whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident and help you pursue restitution.
Contact us today to book an initial personal injury consultation to discuss your case by calling (978) 744-8000 (Salem, MA) or toll free at (855) 693-9084.