The enormous size and length of semi-trailers or 18-wheelers make maneuvering, especially making turns, challenging for truck drivers. This is why operation of a trailer truck requires special skills and training, and a series of tests. Only after a person completes and passes all requirements will he or she be issued a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Of the 15 million trucks registered in the US, about 13% (almost two million) are semi-trailers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And of these two million semi-trailers, about 500,000 get involved in accidents which take the lives of 5,000 individuals every year.
Besides being harder to maneuver and requiring a much wider and longer maneuvering space, trucks also have blind spots or “no-zone” areas. “No zone” areas are spots around a truck where truck drivers do not (or almost do not) notice smaller vehicles. These spots, which include a truck’s front, sides, especially the passenger side, and the back area, are where most accidents occur. Other than truck drivers usually not being aware of the presence of smaller vehicles in their blind spots, there are many other factors that contribute to truck accidents. Some of these factors include: sleepiness and fatigue due to lack of sleep and driving longer than what is allowed under federal rules; use of illegal drugs; intoxication due to legal drugs (prescription and/or over-the-counter-drugs); intoxication due to alcohol, which results to impaired driving; speeding and driving too fast for road conditions; lack of focus on the road; driving distractions; failure to check blind spots; failure to make sure that the brakes are in good working condition; depowering of the front brakes; and, improper attachment of trailer. These and other factors, which fall within drivers’ control, are the most frequent causes of truck accidents. By combining accident records and the results of its own studies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is able to ascertain that majority of truck accidents are due to errors by truck drivers rather than to mistakes or carelessness committed by drivers of smaller vehicles.
In their website, personal injury lawyers from the Benton Firm mention how many truck drivers drive multi-state routes despite feeling fatigued. Thus, despite all safety precautions, many end up causing traumatic accidents.
The dangers trailer-trucks pose on the road make it a must for drivers to observe all proper safety measures. This refers not only to observing traffic rules but also to the observance of federal rules aimed at ensuring road safety, like getting proper sleep and rest, and not driving while impaired. In the event of an accident wherein the truck driver is at fault (or even partly at fault), the law requires that he or she (or the company where he or she is employed) compensate the victim for all the present and future damages resulting from the accident.read more