Truck Accidents an Increasing Menace

By: Jennifer Kimberley

Our highways are increasingly full of big rigs, and their enormous size and weight present additional danger to every other vehicle on the road. There are federal laws to regulate them, and every state has its own laws, yet these giant vehicles continue to be involved in accidents, often fatal accidents.

Part of the problem lies with the behavior of other drivers near the big rigs but a larger part may be with the truckers and trucking companies who sometimes cut corners to deliver their loads on time.

Some of the Factors That Increase Danger
1.Driver Fatigue -- Some truckers are self-employed but most trucks are operated by large trucking companies. In both arrangements, and despite laws, the trucker keeping a driving log and often having electronic communication with the company, the driver becomes fatigued. Fatigue lowers alertness and slows the reflexes, which increases the danger of an accident.
2.Larger Blind Spots - Passenger cars have blind spots, but they're smaller and far less dangerous. An 18-wheeler has large blind spots on each side, and in front and back. A car or small truck can easily fit in those areas. If you are driving too close behind a big rig, too close in front of it, or in either of the side blind spots, that driver cannot see you, and therefore cannot protect you.
&bullIf you're in the lane next to a big rig, drop back enough so that you can see the trucker. If you can see him, you know that he can see you.
&bullIf you want to pull in front of a big rig, wait until there is plenty of space so you can leave a fair distance between you and the trucker. Remember that a big truck cannot stop as quickly as smaller vehicles.
&bullIf you are driving behind a big rig, stay back far enough to be out of the blind spot.
3.Overloading -If the load is too big for the truck components, it puts too much stress on the engine, tires, suspension and every other part. Although trucks are usually well-maintained, an oversized load can wear out truck parts more quickly than the maintenance schedule allows for. There are strict limits on how heavy a truck can be - 80,000 pounds total.
4.Unbalanced Loads - Big rigs carry a huge variety of loads, from vehicles to gasoline to foodstuffs. Each load must be stacked according to separate regulations, sometimes by someone certified in that particular type of loading. Some truckers have that certification for the loads they carry and some don't. Weight limits specify not only the total weight, but also the weight per axle and the weight per pair of axles. Observing these limits helps keep the load evenly distributed, but they are not always observed.
5.Unrealistic Delivery Schedules - Truckers themselves usually do as much as they can to avoid accidents, as an accident could injure them and/or damage their truck and stop them from working. But trucking companies have their eye on the bottom line. Their actuarial tables factor accidents in, expecting a certain number of them, and the companies are prepared to suffer certain losses in order to achieve a higher overall profit.
By requiring their drivers to stick to unrealistic delivery schedules, they encourage:
&bullDriving despite fatigue
&bullForged log books
&bullOverloading
&bullSpeeding
&bullLess-than-thorough maintenance, to get the truck out on the road as quickly as possible

When an 18-wheeler collides with a passenger vehicle, the outcome is always to the disadvantage of the smaller vehicle. Truckers themselves are seldom injured, although the truck may be badly damaged. When someone in the smaller vehicle is injured in such an accident, it is best to seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible. Trucking companies retain fleets of attorneys to protect them in operating their fleets of trucks, and as an injured individual by yourself, you are not on an equal footing.

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