October 29, 2021

How Does Truck Driver Error Cause Accidents?

Just like any other driver on the road, truck drivers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of others. However, people who operate 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial trucks have an even greater duty to drive in a way that minimizes the risk of wrecks due to their potential to cause devastating or fatal collisions.

The seasoned truck accident lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC have substantial experience in these complex cases. Trucking accident claims differ from other types of vehicle collision cases in a number of ways and require the skill and knowledge of a qualified attorney who can provide the guidance you need in this difficult time.

Below are five common ways in which truck driver error can cause a serious accident.

1. Fatigued Driving

Driving for long distances can be an exhausting and monotonous experience. Under these conditions, a truck driver’s top priority should always be safety. Unfortunately, tight deadlines imposed by trucking companies often compel truck drivers to continue driving, even when they feel drowsy.

The amount of time that truckers are permitted to operate their vehicles before taking a break is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Under the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations, truck drivers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour period. They are then required to take a break for at least 10 hours before resuming the haul.

While surpassing the legal limits established by the FMCSA is an error on the part of the driver, trucking companies are known to pressure truckers to continue driving for longer stretches of time in order to deliver hauls faster and further. If a trucking company’s wrongful pressure contributed to a crash, the company may be held liable for the resulting damages.

2. Distracted Driving

While driving for extended periods of time can be tedious, truckers have a responsibility to stay focused on the road and resist distractions. However, distracted driving is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents in the United States. The FMCSA reports that 71 percent of big rig wrecks happened while the truck operator was doing something other than operating the truck. 

Distracted driving accidents are frequently caused by issues such as:

  • Texting
  • Using a cellphone
  • Adjusting mirrors or controls such as GPS, music, and temperature
  • Looking or reaching for something in the vehicle
  • Grooming and hygiene
  • Eating and drinking
  • Daydreaming or being lost in thought

Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving is a distraction that should be avoided.

3. Intoxicated Driving

The dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are indisputable, and any choice to drive while intoxicated is completely inexcusable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drunk driving claims the lives of more than 10,000 people annually.

When it comes to drinking and driving, drivers of 18-wheelers and other big rigs are held to a higher standard than the drivers of other vehicles on the road. The FMCSA limits the blood alcohol content for drivers who operate commercial rigs at 0.04 percent, half of the 0.08 percent limit imposed on other drivers.

Alcohol and drug use are still dangerously common among truckers. Not only are truck drivers expected to drive sober, but trucking companies also have a duty to routinely screen drivers for alcohol and drugs. If a company fails in this responsibility, both the intoxicated driver and his or her employer may be held liable in the event of a crash.

4. Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving occurs when a trucker operates a rig in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger other people or property. Due to the sheer size and weight of semis, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial trucks, aggressive driving can have especially catastrophic consequences.

In light of the extreme danger of aggressive driving, the FMCSA has initiated the Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) program, which funds local law enforcement and public awareness campaigns against aggressive driving. The program is intended to reduce collisions, injuries, and deaths involving large trucks through education and targeted enforcement to raise awareness among truckers about dangerous driving behaviors.

Aggressive driving is often linked to road rage, the intense anger that can lead drivers to behave violently and recklessly. While experiencing road rage, drivers may not be fully in control or aware of their actions or how they are behaving. However, road rage is not a legal defense. Road rage commonly involves:

  • Yelling and verbal insults
  • Insulting or rude gestures
  • Threats of violence
  • Attempts to intimidate
  • Physical confrontation
  • Aggressive driving behaviors such as cutting off, swerving, tailgating, and speeding

5. Speeding

Operating a large commercial vehicle is not the same as driving a passenger vehicle. Big rigs have multiple blind spots, take longer to slow down, and are more difficult to control. While driving too fast is dangerous for any vehicle, speeding in a tractor-trailer poses even more severe risks.

If a trucking company pressures its drivers to meet unrealistic schedules, truckers may feel compelled to drive longer hours than they should and drive at speeds that exceed safe limits. No matter how quickly a company or driver wants to deliver cargo to a destination, there is no excuse for risking the lives of others by driving too fast.

Call a Truck Accident Lawyer In Wisconsin

Studinski Law, LLC has established a record of success in truck accident litigation. Our experienced truck accident lawyers know the challenges you may be facing after a truck accident injury and we know the keys to building a strong case on your behalf. We will work diligently to maximize your compensation and resolve your case as quickly as possible.

See our results.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, call Studinski Law, LLC today at (715) 343-2850 for a free case evaluation. Our firm serves clients in Plover, Marshfield, and other Wisconsin areas.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
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