According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are almost 5,000 people killed in commercial truck accidents each year. One of the deadliest crashes that occur is those that happen with tractor-trailers. The massive size and weight of these vehicles leave little chance for occupants inside a regular passenger vehicle. For those victims who actually survive these crashes, the resulting injuries are often catastrophic.
Causes of Truck Accidents
There are many reasons why a truck driver gets into an accident, but statistics show that one of the most common causes is that the driver was under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Studies have shown that many truck drivers turn to these substances as a way of combatting heavy fatigue caused by lack of sleep. Many drivers self-medicate by using alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine. The use of these drugs is so widespread that in studies, almost 30 percent of drivers admit they use amphetamines to stay awake. Another 50 percent admit to drinking alcohol while driving.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study
A major study that was conducted by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was a major eye-opener of just how dangerous trucking has become. Some of the factors cited in the report include:
- Truck driver fatigue
- Truck driver drove off the edge of the road
- Truck driver driving too fast for road or weather conditions
- Encroachment by another vehicle into the truck’s lane
- Improper truck maneuvering during normal operation
- Lane drifting
- Loss of control due to a mechanical failure of a critical event, such as a blowout
- Bad weather or poor road conditions
- Overweight or improperly loaded cargo
- Mechanical failure of the truck
As mentioned above, one of the most common causes of truck accidents is truck driver fatigue. In order to prevent this, truck drivers are required to obey the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations the FMCSA has put in place, including not operating more than 11 consecutive hours and taking breaks at required intervals. Truck drivers have long been required under federal regulations to log the hours they operate in order to ensure they are not violating the HOS regulations the agency has in place. In 2015, the FMCSA passed a regulation that required all truck drivers to track their hours of service into a logging device instead of just handwritten logs. This rule made it easier for state and federal trucking regulators to make sure that all drivers are abiding by the stringent hour limitations that are in place.
A Virginia truck accident attorney can use the evidence from those logs to prove that the truck driver violated the regulations. There are a number of other types of evidence an attorney can use, but it’s crucial you contact an attorney right away because trucking companies have been known to “lose” this type of evidence, making it difficult to prove their liability.
Virginia Truck Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident, our Virginia truck accident attorneys are available to discuss the circumstances of your case and what legal recourse you may have against those who may be responsible for the accident.
Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation and find out how we can help.