If you’re traveling on a highway or freeway, there is no doubt you are going to pass a semi-truck. There are millions of semi-trucks in the United States, and they are running at almost every hour of every day to make sure their cargo gets where it needs to be on time. Unfortunately, the accidents caused by semi-trucks can be the most deadly and costly on the road.
What Are the Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents?
When there is an accident, it is typically the result of a combination of many variables at once. There are a lot of reasons a semi-truck can be involved in an accident, including:
- Distracted Driving
- Aggressive Driving
- Driving Under the Influence
- Road Construction
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance
- Poor Driver Training
- Driver Fatigue
What Percentage of Accidents Are Caused by Semi-Trucks?
In 2020, semi-trucks accounted for 9 percent of all vehicles involved in crashes with fatalities and 5 percent of all vehicles involved in accidents that resulted in injury and property damage. It is estimated that there were a total of 146,930 individuals who were injured, and 4,965 lost their lives because of an accident involving a semi-truck.
Who Is Liable in a Semi-Truck Accident?
When it comes to liability in an accident involving a semi-truck, there are a lot of parties that can be held accountable. Even if the accident was the fault of the driver, because they are employees of a larger corporation, the liability for the accident isn’t always entirely on them.
Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set strict requirements for semi-truck drivers allowed time behind the wheel, the law is all too frequently broken. Sometimes, a driver who continues to drive past the legally allowed amount of time isn’t doing so because they want to. If it is discovered that a company was forcing unrealistic timelines upon the driver, and requiring them to break the law, the company who the driver works for would be at fault.
Aside from the truck driver themselves and their carrier company, there are several other parties that can be held liable for an accident involving a semi-truck. If the trucking company and the driver do not own the semi-truck, the owner of the truck can be held accountable if the crash is the result of poor or improper vehicle maintenance. For example, if the owner of the truck decided to cut corners on essential safety parts, like the truck’s brake system, and the crash was the result of a brake failure, they can be held liable.
Many semi-truck accidents do not involve the actual vehicle but the cargo the truck is carrying. If cargo comes loose or was loaded in a way that throws the truck off balance, it can cause a serious accident. If the cargo was the cause of the accident, the individual or company that loaded the cargo can be held liable for the crash. In some instances, if there is a factory defect on the truck which causes a mechanical failure that results in a crash, the truck’s manufacturing company can be held liable.
If the crash was the result of poor road conditions, a local government or construction contractor can be held responsible for the accident. This is not in the case of bad weather or slick roads. Instead, this is plausible if there is a flaw in the highway design or the roadway was so poorly constructed that it resulted in an accident.
How Can I Avoid an Accident with a Semi-Truck?
Semi-trucks are incredibly dangerous, but if you’re going to drive almost anywhere in the United States, you need to be prepared to drive on the road with them. There are several ways that you can ensure you are driving safely around semi-trucks and doing the best you can to avoid an accident with a large truck.
Allow More Distance
When driving your passenger vehicle in the presence of a semi-truck, give yourself much more distance from the truck than you normally would with another passenger vehicle. If you drive your smaller car close to a large semi-truck, it inhibits their ability to see you. If the truck driver is unable to see you or your small car is impeding their vision of the road, they may not be able to see and observe other vehicles or accurately judge road conditions at the time.
Because semi-trucks are so much larger than regular cars, they require extra space to turn and a longer distance to stop when going at higher speeds. If you do not create ample distance between your vehicle and the semi-truck, they will not be able to avoid turning into you. If they need to slam on the brakes, but your passenger vehicle is too close, it is highly likely that they will still run into you, although they made every effort to stop the truck.
By allowing more distance between your personal vehicle and the semi-truck, you also give yourself extra time and space to react if you need to. If you need to swerve around an obstacle or make a sudden stop, you have plenty of space to do so without putting yourself in danger from the truck.
Because of the semi-truck’s size, the driver has many more blind spots than an individual in a regular vehicle. To stay safe while driving on the road with a semi-truck, make sure that you stay out of the driver’s blind spots. It is important that the driver is aware of your location when you’re sharing the roadway. You should never continue to drive consistently next to a truck, where you are more likely to be out of view. Always pass large semi-trucks when they are in the right lane, and leave plenty of space between the vehicles when you do so.
Watch Where You Stop
Sometimes, stopping on the side of a busy highway is completely unavoidable. If you should need to do so, make sure that you pull as far onto the shoulder as possible. A driver may accidentally swerve off the road a little and clip your vehicle if it is not parked with plenty of distance from the roadway.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a truck, Guenard and Bozarth, LLC are here to help you get the settlement you deserve. When accidents happen, you need the experience behind you that we can provide. If you require a personal injury attorney in Northern California, contact us for a consultation today.