In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted an alarming 439,206 truck accidents reported by the police. Tragically, of these incidents, 4,842 were fatal and injurious to 106,902 people. While these stats are disheartening, most crashes are avoidable.
And for the affected families, the long and painful road to recovery or healing is often riddled with obstacles. Thankfully, a knowledgeable truck accident attorney at Beach Injury Lawyers, LLC can help victims and their families pursue justice. That said, it pays to understand the common mistakes that lead to truck accidents and the steps to prevent them. Typically, these include:
1. Inattentive Driving
Driving is a complex task requiring a driver’s full attention to ensure safety on the road. Inattentive driving can lead to accidents, injuries, property damage, and fatalities. One such scenario is driving while drowsy or fatigued. Research shows that drowsy driving can impair a driver’s reaction time and judgment.
Similarly, using a mobile phone while driving causes visual and cognitive distractions – by taking the driver’s attention away from the road. Other distractions such as eating, grooming, adjusting the radio or GPS, or engaging in a hearty chat with a passenger can also lead to truck accidents.
It is crucial to remain focused and alert while driving to prevent accidents and protect all road users. For instance, a driver should take a break when they feel fatigued. Also, they should turn off their phones or keep them out of reach while driving. It’s also advisable to wait for a breakpoint or rest area before engaging in distracting activities.
2. Truck Maintenance and Repairs
All vehicles require routine maintenance and repair to ensure they are safe to drive. Specifically, trucks require frequent servicing as they cover long distances and carry heavy loads. Thus, unserviced trucks with worn-out parts or brakes can lead to catastrophic accidents.
Truck owners and operators are responsible for inspecting their vehicles regularly and ensuring they are properly maintained according to the standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A truck driver must also abide by all inspection regulations, including regular pre-trip inspections of brakes, lights, tires, cargo, and other components.
3. Driving in Poor Weather Conditions
Truck drivers should be aware of hazardous weather conditions that can make driving more dangerous. During winter, icy roads can cause skidding and lead to serious accidents. Similarly, in summer, extreme heat can impact the performance of brakes and tires, while heavy rain can reduce visibility and create slippery surfaces. Sun glare can also be a hazard, making it difficult for drivers to see the road ahead.
It is critical to drive cautiously in adverse weather conditions. Drivers should also consider traffic congestion caused by snow or heavy rain before setting out on their trip. Moreover, they should fit appropriate tires and have other equipment, such as chains, in case of icy roads.
In inclement weather, it might be advisable to abort a trip and resume when conditions improve. Alternatively, drivers can use other routes less prone to bad weather.
4. Failure to Adhere to Traffic Laws
When drivers fail to adhere to traffic laws, such as obeying stop lights, signs or merging lanes, and hours of service regulations, they can put themselves and other drivers in danger. Likewise, speeding is a significant contributor to truck accidents as it can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time, thus increasing the risk of an accident.
Generally, drivers should obey traffic rules for everyone’s sake. This could mean avoiding aggressive driving, such as weaving or tailgating, as it can lead to accidents. Other reckless maneuvers such as changing lanes abruptly, brake-checking or erratic braking, accelerating suddenly, failure to yield right-of-way, and making wide turns should be on their list of don’ts.
5. Driving Under the Influence
While having one for the road might seem harmless, it can have fatal consequences. Driving while intoxicated diminishes a driver’s ability to think clearly and react swiftly. That said, it’s not uncommon for truck drivers to drive under the influence, although it’s illegal in all states – and applies to all drivers.
Thus, truckers and other drivers should never drive when their abilities are impaired and should be aware of the dangerous consequences of such a decision. They should also remember to plan before every trip by eating regular meals and avoiding alcohol or drugs while on duty.
6. Inadequate Driver Training
In a rush to move goods from one place to another, some companies overlook driving lessons and driver training. Others hire inexperienced drivers and expect them to learn on the job. Such ignorance can lead to serious accidents caused by inadequate knowledge of vehicle operations and numerous other aspects.
Firms should endeavor to properly train their drivers before letting them handle their rigs. This may entail teaching them how to maneuver their vehicles safely, inspect them, the importance of following laws and regulations, and tips for driving in adverse weather conditions.
We owe it to ourselves to ensure we drive safely and adhere to trucking regulations. It is the only way to keep every road user safe and reduce injuries and fatalities caused by avoidable truck accidents. Let’s look out for each other by doing our part in promoting safe driving habits.