Due to the incredible size and weight of tractor-trailers, accidents involving these massive vehicles are much more dangerous than those involving passenger cars. While the average passenger car weighs around 4,000 pounds, 18-wheelers can weigh a whopping 80,000 pounds. Based on this alone, it is easy to see how accidents involving these vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries or death. The results are especially devastating in accidents in which a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle are involved.
Fortunately, many accidents can be avoided. In order to prevent them, though, it is important to understand why they tend to occur in the first place. In this blog post, we will discuss a few of the most common causes of tractor-trailer accidents.
As a truck driver, you have a greater responsibility to drive safely. Despite this, though, truckers can make mistakes just like any other driver. Sometimes, truck drivers get behind the wheel when they are overly tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And, just like any other driver, they sometimes drive recklessly or distractedly.
And, of course, drivers of passenger vehicles can make mistakes, too. In fact, in tractor-trailer accidents caused by driver error, the mistake is made by the passenger vehicle driver 81% of the time. Whether you are climbing behind the wheel of a massive 18-wheeler or a tiny fuel-efficient car, avoiding accidents requires being cautious and alert at all times.
Defective Highway Design
Even defective highway design can cause crashes. Things like large potholes, improper guardrails and improper drainage can all prevent tractor-trailers from being able to navigate an area safely. Such issues are especially common on rural roadways that may not have been designed to accommodate larger vehicles. When possible, it is best to avoid roads that are in any way defective.
Inclement weather can pose a serious hazard for everyone on the road. Whether it’s snow, ice, heavy rain or even fog, poor weather can be a serious problem for truck drivers. Due to the heavy weight of tractor-trailers, they are unable to slow down and stop as quickly as a passenger vehicle. When weather hazards are present, it can take even longer.
Equipment failure is another common cause of tractor-trailer accidents. Sometimes, equipment manufacturers are negligent when designing and manufacturing parts. This can result in vehicle components that are defective or dangerous. In these situations, the truck manufacturer, part manufacturer, mechanic who installed the part or the trucking company that sold the truck may be liable for damages when an accident occurs.
Equipment can also fail and cause an accident as a result of improper maintenance. Commercial trucks can rack up several thousand miles over the course of just a few months. All of that wear and tear takes a serious toll on the vehicle and, without proper maintenance, serious problems can arise. Drivers are required to do pre-trip inspections and submit vehicle maintenance reports regularly. Trucking companies are also required to keep up with maintenance. Failure to do so can be deadly.
Improper Cargo Loading
When loading commercial trucks, there are strict regulations that must be followed. There are limits regarding length, size, weight and height. Additionally, there are requirements for securing loads. Failure to abide by the rules and regulations is, of course, illegal and extremely dangerous. Improperly secured loads can shift or fall off the truck entirely, potentially resulting in serious accidents. Loads that are too large or too heavy can also pose as serious hazards.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Tractor-Trailer Accident
Despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes accidents occur. If you have been involved in one, it is best to consult with a tractor-trailer accident attorney as soon as possible. Litigating trucking accidents is complex and, if you are not familiar with the laws, it can be nearly impossible to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
At Kopelman Sitton, we understand commercial trucking regulations and work quickly to preserve the rights of accident victims. Under federal law, motor carriers are permitted to discard critical evidence within weeks of a wreck. Consulting with an attorney right away ensures the preservation of important evidence that could hold the key to your case. If you have been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, contact us today to schedule a consultation.