Truck Accidents - Save a Few Bucks or Save Lives?

By: Patricia Woloch
Remember that old saying, "Keep on truckin'"? Well, the U.S. has done just that. You'll find pickups and SUVs of all sizes on the road. Even with today's high gas prices. And, you'll find large trucks out on the roads, highways and interstates every day, with many traveling through the night, as well.

What is considered a large truck, though? That's easy. Roughly, any vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh over 70,000 pounds! That category can include:

? Delivery trucks

? Tractor-trailers (aka 18-wheelers, semi's)

? Other heavy cargo vans

That's a Lot of Metal!

Currently, there are nearly 8 million large trucks registered in the U.S. and that number seems to be increasing steadily every year. Even though that number is less than 5% of all registered vehicles, their sheer size and lack of short response time requires that the drivers of these big rigs follow some strict rules and regulations. Some of the more important are these:

? Drivers must carry extensive insurance coverage

? Drivers are required to keep track of their time

? Drivers are limited to the length of time they can drive without adequate rest and sleep

? Trucks are subject to strictly controlled maintenance schedules

You can probably guess that the insurance is expensive. So is the maintenance of an 18-wheeler or large truck. In fact, the trucking industry as a whole is expensive. Owners and operators are always looking for ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, that can lead to negligence on the part of the driver, which can then lead to a serious, if not fatal, truck accident. Thinking they can save money, some truck owners and/or drivers will resort to any number of things.

? Unrealistic schedules: expecting cargo delivery based on the driver having to forego adequate sleep or exceed posted speed limits to make the delivery on time and not forfeit bonuses

? Driver fatigue: spending longer than appropriate on the road between sleep and rest breaks

? Overweight truck loads: this puts extra stress on the engine, suspension, tires, etc. and slows vehicle response time down even more

? Poor truck maintenance: not adhering to a regular maintenance schedule can lead to very costly breakdowns on the road including tire blowouts, brake failure, and other mechanical problems

? Taking shortcuts: truckers will get off the major highways in favor of surface streets to beat traffic

Quite often, when a semi is involved in a truck accident, the owner, the driver and their corresponding attorneys and insurance companies will work very hard to prove the accident wasn't the fault of the driver. More often than not, that just isn't true. That's been proven by the drivers, attorneys and insurance companies of the passenger vehicles also involved in those truck accidents.

There just really isn't any point in cutting corners if you own or operate a large truck, now is there?

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