Commercial trucks and delivery vehicles are hazardous when operated negligently, or when other drivers fail to give these vehicles space and respect when sharing the road. The Chicago truck accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers actively represent the interests of anyone who is injured in an accident and cannot stress how important it is to drive defensively for the sake of your passengers and those around you. While negligent truck drivers are indeed responsible for their fair share of accidents, others on the road can also be an influence and contributing factor in a crash.
The Motorist’s Role in Truck Driving Accidents
Most of the headlines concerning trucking accidents highlight the negligence of commercial truckers and diminish the influence that other drivers may have played in the events leading up to the incident. Our Chicago trucking accident lawyers perform our due diligence to establish how each party involved in an accident has contributed to the outcome. Sharing the road with commercial trucks does not give drivers a free pass when they act irresponsibly.
Here are the ways a negligent motorist can contribute to or be the cause of a trucking accident.
- Improper lane usage — Many drivers overestimate the amount of space they have when making passing maneuvers or merging. Truck drivers are limited by the longer stopping distance and poor visibility, so it is not wise to cut commercial vehicles off or change lanes too quickly when passing them.
- Failure to understand trucking blind spots — Many trucks have markings posted on their trailers referencing their “no-zones” or areas you should never be caught occupying. Drivers are unable to see vehicles in these blind spots immediately in front, to the side, and behind the truck, and while they are responsible for communicating their intention to change lanes or make turns, they cannot account for vehicles they are unable to see.
- Occupy space between two commercial vehicles — It is extremely dangerous to position your car between two large trucks on the highway. It can be difficult for both drivers to see you and increases the chance that your vehicle could be crumpled between the two vehicles in a multi-crash accident.
- Staying to the right of a right turning truck — Commercial truck drivers need to make wide right turns, which can place vehicles at risk when they occupy the space to the right of the trailer.
- Failure to judge a truck’s approach speed — Left turn accidents are very common due to the diminished ability of many drivers to perceive depth and speed. When a vehicle turns into the path of an oncoming truck, the results can be catastrophic.
- Failure to adjust the speed at on-ramps — Trucks have a difficult time when entering highways without other drivers contributing additional stress. Some accidents can be prevented if other motorists would adjust their speed to get ahead of or behind the merging truck. Another option is to move into the next lane so that the driver has the extra space to enter the highway.
- Encountering air turbulence — Large trucks can create drafts and shield passing vehicles from crosswinds on windy days. Once the vehicle has passed the truck, these forces may act on it and push it into a precarious position.
- Tailgating the truck — In addition to occupying a blind spot, tailgating places motorists at risk in the event that the truck driver is required to stop quickly. They are also less likely to anticipate the driver’s need to stop, as the trailer obstructs their view of the road ahead.
- Distracted driving — Studies have shown that distracted driving is a factor in the majority of accidents on the road today and more drivers are multitasking behind the wheel than ever before.
The Truck Driver’s Role in Contributing to Trucking Accidents
Many commercial drivers do not get enough credit. To succeed at their occupations, they must exercise patience and develop many skills throughout their training and time on the job. Large truck companies often push them beyond their limits through strict deadlines and the refusal to pay their drivers for any downtime that they may experience. These stressed drivers may act negligently to compensate or to reach their income goals. Following are some of the ways the truck drivers may influence the events preceding an accident.
- Failure to follow work laws — Truck drivers, are required to maintain detailed logs of the hours they operate and are expected to take breaks for specified lengths of time between shifts. When attempting to meet a deadline or make up for downtime, some drivers may falsify their logs and travel well past the number of hours they are allowed to drive over 24 hours. Fatigued drivers exhibit symptoms very similar to drunkenness, making them a danger to others on the road.
- The driver is poorly trained or inexperienced — Training and experience can be significant factors in trucking accidents. If the driver lacks the necessary experience or training to operate a large truck safely, his or her employer should invest the appropriate amount of time and resources to his or her development.
- Compensation systems that encourage negligence — Many drivers are not paid hourly but instead receive payment based on the number of miles they have logged. This process makes them far less likely to notify an employer of any minor maintenance issues, encourage them to speed and take inappropriate risks and may make them work long and tiring shifts to keep up.
- Speeding — Speed has been proven to be a significant influence on the severity of auto injuries. Since large trucks are capable of extreme destruction, the risk is compounded when motorists drive well more than the posted speed limits or too fast for road or weather conditions.
- Failure to inspect or maintain vehicles — Many of the commercial trucks in service are poorly maintained due to a culture of cutting corners to save time and complete more routes. Submitting a vehicle for maintenance takes it off of the road where it cannot bring a profit for the driver or company. Unfortunately, the people who pay for the refusal of trucking companies to maintain their trucks properly are the other drivers on the road.
- Driving while influenced by drugs or alcohol — Drunk driving continued to be a leading source of road-related casualties. Truck companies should hold their drivers to a high standard and perform regular screenings to ensure their drivers are not operating under the influence. Drivers will still occasionally make the reckless choice to operate their trucks after taking drinking or taking drugs, and this can have deadly consequences.
- Driving while distracted — The epidemic of distracted driving has affected truck drivers as well, and many operate their vehicles while talking on the phone, texting or using other smart device technologies. Distraction is a leading cause of auto accidents and the decision to put the phone, tablet or Bluetooth device away until a break can save lives.
- Failure to obey traffic control devices — Truck drivers making turns or entering intersections when they are not permitted to can result in devastating multi-crash accidents.
Mechanical failures or defects can also contribute to an accident. When this is the case, the truck manufacturer or company that produced the defective part can share in the liability. To determine who exactly is liable and to what degree, it is crucial to perform a detailed investigation. Our Chicago trucking accident lawyers have access to accident reconstruction specialists with many years of experience piecing together the events preceding an accident.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has provided award-winning legal services to thousands of trucking accident victims across the country, and we are confident that we can represent your interests and provide you with the maximum chances of a successful recovery. If you have been injured in an accident, contact us today to arrange a consultation for free so that we can collect the information we need to explore your legal options and advise you on how best to proceed with your case.
Our Chicago trucking accident attorneys work solely on a contingency fee basis so that anyone can benefit from our services regardless of their finances. We will only accept fees for our services after we have successfully secured the damages you are entitled to on your behalf. If we fail to do so, you will not owe us a thing.