With the welcome news of the recovery of our nation’s housing market comes so not-so-welcome – and alarming, though often overlooked news – of the rising incidence of collisions between cars and construction vehicles, particularly cement trucks. Private passenger vehicles, which typically weigh in around 3,000 pounds, are just no match for cement trucks which weigh as much as 15 tons (that’s 30,000 pounds) when EMPTY, and can weigh two-and-a-half times more (70,000 pounds) when carrying a full, 40,000 pound load of concrete.
Most people assume, understandably so, that collisions occur because of driver error, and while that often is the case, there’s more at play when it comes to cement trucks. First, the mere design of cement trucks makes them particularly dangerous. Second, many concrete companies offer drivers incentives which actually encourage carelessness and recklessness. And third, state government has played a role in making cement trucks even more dangerous.
Because cement trucks weigh less than the concrete they carry, the trucks are hard to control and highly susceptible to rolling over, even when making relatively low speed turns. Also, as the barrel or drum spins, some of the concrete sticks to the driver’s side of the drum, causing the left side of the truck to become heavier than the right, thereby increasing the risk of the truck rolling over onto its left side.
Cement truck drivers know concrete will harden if it is not discharged within 90 minutes of water being mixed with concrete at the plant, so drivers know there’s no time to waste. Making matters worse, some concrete companies pay cement truck drivers by the load instead of by the hour, giving cement mixer drivers incentives to speed and disobey traffic laws knowing the faster they can get to and from job sites, the more money they can make. Traffic citations don’t deter unsafe driving because increased pay drivers receive for making more deliveries more than covers the costs of tickets.
Finally, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) removed a cap which limited most concrete trucks to carrying 80 percent of their maximum capacity for state projects. That allowed cement trucks to carry an additional 8,000 pounds of concrete when making deliveries to state highway projects.
The combination of dangerously designed trucks, company incentives for unsafe driving, and relaxation of government regulations can have disastrous, sometimes deadly consequences. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a collision with a cement truck, the lawyers at Kopelman Sitton Law Group have the experience you need to make sure you recover the compensation you deserve.