Trucking accidents can result in serious injuries that can sometimes prove to be fatal. What makes these accidents even more tragic is that in most cases, they are completely avoidable. For instance, one of the most common causes of truck accidents is reckless truck driving and negligent truck driving companies.
To prevent the occurrence of such accidents, the State of New Jersey has set strict trucking regulations. However, despite these regulations, the New Jersey State Police reports approximately 2,000+ truck accidents every year. Cumulatively, these accidents result in more than 65 deaths along with 3,000+ injuries.
The trucking industry all over the U.S. is extremely powerful. If you or your loved one has been in a truck accident, you need to consult a truck accident lawyer. An experienced attorney will help you file a successful case and ensure that you are adequately compensated for your injuries.
There are multiple causes of truck accidents. While some may be unintentional or unavoidable, most of them are due to the irresponsible behavior of the truck driver.
If you have been in a truck accident, the compensation you receive will largely depend on what caused the accident to occur. Here is a list of potential causes of truck accidents.
#1 – Distracted Driving
Distracted driving refers to engaging in another activity while driving a vehicle. It can cause the driver to lose focus on the road and result in a life-threatening accident. Distracted driving is as much a problem on highways as it is on local roads.
Truck drivers have strict instructions to only focus on the road while driving. Unfortunately, many truck drivers fail to comply with them. For instance, many drivers like to engage in some activity to keep themselves entertained because driving a truck for long stretches can get boring. Some of them use their cellphones to chat with or text friends. This can distract them and cause their attention to divert away from the road. Statistics show that in 2018, over a thousand accidents were caused due to cellphone usage.
Apart from this, some drivers even have a habit of munching behind the wheel or striking up conversations with passengers. Even songs playing in the background can be a source of distraction because they can cause the driver to get carried away in their thoughts.
#2 – Driver Fatigue
Truck driving is a challenging and stressful job. Many trucking companies require drivers to deliver goods to a specific destination within a short time span. This means that drivers have to drive long distances with few breaks and little rest.
There are laws and regulations that outline the number of hours a truck driver should drive in a day. They also specify the number of rest breaks the driver needs to take. However, many truck drivers still tend to overwork themselves due to strict deadlines and traffic delays. This can result in driver fatigue.
Moreover, truck drivers are paid according to the number of miles they drive. To complete the required number of miles, they spend multiple days on the road and are unable to get a good night’s sleep. As a result, these truck drivers can lose focus and coordination while driving. Their reaction time also increases which causes them to respond slower to road situations. In worst-case scenarios, truck drivers can even fall asleep while driving, resulting in fatal accidents.
#3 – Impaired Driving
One of the most common causes of truck accidents is impaired driving. Any driver who drives a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses a high risk of a road accident. This risk is further amplified if the driver is driving a truck weighing 80,000 pounds.
Truck driving is a demanding job that comes with tough deadlines. Unfortunately, many truck drivers resort to consuming stimulants such as speed and other drugs which helps them stay awake and keep on track with their deadlines. A Reuters article said that 20% of truck drivers used marijuana, whereas 3% used cocaine while driving.
Even though these can help drivers stay awake, it can alter their reactions and perceptions and cause them to hallucinate or feel agitated. For instance, a driver who has consumed a stimulant is more likely to drive faster and change lanes in an unsafe manner.
#4 – Unqualified Drivers
Because these 18-wheeler trucks are gigantic and heavy, driving them is a much more difficult task than driving a car. Therefore, truck drivers need to go through rigorous training and attain several certifications before they actually drive one. For instance, a truck driver needs to have certain skills like braking, turning, and navigating slopes.
The sad reality is that many truck drivers are not properly trained or qualified for the job. Several trucking companies do not have strict procedures to ensure that a truck driver is properly trained for the job. Unqualified or inexperienced truck drivers are often the reason behind truck accidents.
#5 – Lack of Vehicle Maintenance
Large commercial trucking companies must maintain their vehicles. They need to ensure that all the equipment in their vehicle is in excellent condition. However, many truck company owners overlook this task because it is costly and time-consuming. Here is a list of equipment failure that can result due to lack of maintenance:
- Faulty breaks
- Tire blowouts
- Transmission failure
- Malfunctioning steering
- Defective side or rear lighting.
#6 – Reckless Driving
Many drivers tend to get frustrated and angry when they spend long hours on the road. Sometimes, they are under extensive pressure to transport the shipment on time. This can often result in road rage and aggressive driving.
For instance, drivers might start to drive faster than is appropriate for such a large and heavy vehicle. Drivers feel that they will lose their job if they do not make a delivery on time and tend to speed up to reach their destination.
However, reckless driving isn’t limited to speeding. Rather, it includes instances such as
- Frequent changing of lanes
- Failing to check for blind spots before switching lanes.
Reckless driving is one of the most common, yet preventable causes of truck driving.
#7 – Cargo Overloading
It is an extremely important task to load trucks safely and securely. There are certain limitations regarding the weight a truck can hold. If the weight of the cargo exceeds the recommended weight limit, it can result in a serious accident. For instance, in some cases, excess weight can cause the truck to tip over. In other situations, overloaded cargo can lead to tire blowouts, eventually causing the truck to jackknife. Moreover, it is difficult to maneuver overloaded trucks for even experienced drivers.
#8 – Partially-Filled Liquid Loads
Many trailers that we see on the state highways are transporting gases and liquids such as oil. They designed to store a certain volume of liquid before they get full. If these tanks are not completely filled, they pose a very serious safety hazard.
For instance, if the trailer is only filled to ¾ of its capacity, the liquid inside can splash around. This can cause the vehicle to sway, especially when the driver makes a turn or accelerates. If the liquid starts to move around vigorously inside the trailer, the driver can potentially lose control of the truck. Such accidents are extremely dangerous and can cause an explosion because the substances that are being carried are highly flammable.
#9 – Unfavorable Driving Conditions
Unfavorable driving conditions include harsh weather such as fog, rain, ice, snow, and strong winds. Such weather can make the roads slippery and make it difficult for truck drivers to drive safely. It can result in multi-car pileups that can severely harm motorists.
Poor driving conditions can also be caused by poorly laid out roads. Unpaved roads, narrow lanes, and potholes can cause truck accidents.
Lastly, roads that are under construction also pose a very high risk of accidents. Due to the large size of their vehicles, truck drivers can face difficulty in maneuvering around an area under construction. This can easily result in a deadly collision.
Types of Truck Accidents
Due to their enormous size, truck accidents can inflict severe injuries on innocent victims. If you have been severely injured in a truck accident, you need to understand the different types of accidents. Sound knowledge of truck accidents will help you file a strong case and hold the relevant parties liable.
Here is a list of the type of truck accidents that can occur.
#1 – Head-On Collision
A head-on collision can occur if a truck driver loses control of this vehicle and crashes head-first into another vehicle. In a head-on collision, other vehicles on the road do not get sufficient time to move away from the truck and avoid the accident. These collisions can cause the victims to sustain life-threatening injuries especially when they occur at high speeds. Thankfully, head-on collisions are primarily rare.
Head-on collisions can occur for a number of reasons including distracted driving or driving under the influence of alcohol. Other than that, driver fatigue can also cause the driver to doze off while driving and swerve into another lane.
#2 – Rear-End Truck Accidents
Distracted driving, road rage, and reckless driving such as over speeding can result in a rear-end truck accident. Due to the large size and weight of these trucks, they have a larger braking distance. This simply means that they need more time to come to a stop or avoid accidents.
When passenger cars make abrupt stops, rash turnings, or other quick maneuvers, it can become tough for truck drivers to slow down or stop in time to prevent an accident. These heavy trucks can plunge into the back of a passenger vehicle and cause the car passengers to sustain fatal injuries. As per the guidelines laid out by the FMCSA, truck drivers need to maintain a minimum six-second gap to prevent rear-end truck accidents.
Pro-tip: If you’re driving and observe a large truck behind you, you should carefully switch your lane and allow the truck to pass through. This will keep you safe from becoming a victim of any deadly accident.
#3 – Roll-Over Accidents
In most truck accident cases, innocent victims tend to sustain the most severe injuries whereas truck drivers generally remain unharmed. However, this is not the case in rollover accidents. In fact, truck roll-overs are the most risky and fatal for truck drivers themselves. In a roll-over accident, the trailer can roll over, causing the truck and cargo to fall out of it.
Roll-over accidents mainly occur because of the driver’s loss of control on the vehicle. This can result from multiple factors such as cargo overload, speeding, dangerous turns, etc.
#4 – Underride Accidents
They are one of the most fatal types of truck accidents that can occur. They occur when a truck stops abruptly and a car that is right behind collides with the rear-end of the truck and gets stuck beneath the trailer. This is because the trailer if often high enough to allow a car to slide beneath it. In such accidents, the top of the car can break off resulting in the deaths of those seated inside it.
#5 – Jackknife Accidents
Jackknife accidents occur when the truck begins to skid on the road and the trailer swings out to make a 90-degree angle with the truck. In a jackknife accident, the driving wheels of the truck tend to get locked while the front wheels keep slipping forward.
There are multiple reasons behind a jackknife accident. The most common one is improper braking. For instance, if a truck driver slams on the brakes suddenly, it can cause the truck to skid on the road. Slippery roads and harsh weather can also result in jackknifing accidents.
Jackknifing accidents are extremely dangerous and can cause a multi-car pileup.
Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer
As per the New Jersey law, you are eligible to receive compensation if you get injured in a truck accident. However, you will first have to file a claim to receive your benefits. It is a great idea to consult an experienced truck accident lawyer. Our team of lawyers will strengthen your case and ensure that you get the benefits you are entitled to receive.