It is commonly known that truck drivers may often be fatigued, despite federal regulations which govern the amount of time they can work (a trucker cannot drive more than eleven hours in a 24-hour period, for example). According to a 2000 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study, the risk of a trucking accident nearly doubled between the eighth and tenth hours of driving, and doubled again between the tenth and eleventh hours. Thus, even truck drivers who follow federal regulations can still prove dangerous after driving for so long on a given day.
Truckers and trucking companies have an ongoing conflict between profit and safety. Some trucking companies may proclaim “safety first” while providing employees with delivery schedules that are impossible to follow without violating regulations, speeding, or both. Fatigued drivers have impaired cognitions and reaction-times, and can even fall asleep at the wheel; added to which are the sizes of trucks and their greater difficulty of operation, and a terrible accident is waiting to happen.
Some trucking companies are indeed on tight budgets and may even struggle to properly maintain their trucks. Brakes that are worn or out of adjustment may lead to total failure; worn-out tires can blow out and cause the driver to lose control. Weight-related issues can occur when trucks are loaded improperly; it’s very important to distribute the load’s weight evenly throughout the trailer, such as by shifting the rear axle assembly forward or backward. If the truck is loaded improperly, it could tip over or jackknife on the road and improperly-loaded goods could shift and fly off the trailer. A truck’s weight also contributes greatly to its stopping-distance: a passenger car traveling 65 miles per hour takes about 300 feet to stop, while a 40-ton truck takes up to 525 feet to stop.
Large trucks have large blind spots, and often do not have effective rearview mirrors; blind spots can be up to three times the truck’s length. This is why it can be dangerous to attempt to switch lanes into a truck’s blind spot. A truck’s trailer can also significantly impact the way it is driven, such as with “off-tracking.” This term means that the trailer doesn’t follow the tractor’s same path when the truck turns. Collisions caused by off-tracking may occur when a tractor trailer turns at an intersection and a motorist attempts to pass it on the right side. The motorist may think there is room to pass on the right, but this can be deceiving and the trailer can block the space again within seconds.
For these reasons and more, drivers should always take great care around trucks and acknowledge the fact that the truck driver may be fatigued or unable to see some vehicles around him. The bottom line: any collision with a truck can have life-or-death consequences. There are many available measures to lessen this risk, and all drivers should honor them.
If you were injured in a truck accident, contact Mike Agruss Law, for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. Mike Agruss Law, will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law, is not paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – just the opportunity to seek justice.