Semi-truck drivers may spend upward of 300 days per year on the road and log in excess of 125,000 miles per year. Given the time truck drivers are behind the wheel and the adverse conditions they often face, perhaps it’s no surprise that commercial vehicle driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.
Unfortunately, when it comes to crashes involving semi-trucks it is often the innocent occupants of passenger vehicles who suffer. In 2016, the last year for which comprehensive crash data is available, large truck accidents resulted in more than 4,200 fatalities; the same year, large truck crashes caused an additional 55,000 injuries.
While driver error is a factor in most passenger vehicle crashes, there may be multiple elements at play in semi-truck accidents.
Truck Driver Negligence
Though there may be other contributing factors, driver negligence still plays a role in many semi-truck accidents:
- Driver exhaustion: There are federal regulations that limit drivers’ hours of operation, but truckers occasionally exceed their maximum time behind the wheel in order to meet unrealistic deadlines or increase their profits; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studies indicate that at least 13 percent of all large truck accidents are caused by fatigue
- Distracted driving: Like many drivers, truckers sometimes text, talk or check messages behind the wheel; the consequences can be deadly in any case, although the sheer size and weight of semis and tractor-trailers makes them especially dangerous in a collision
- Driving under the influence: Driving under the influence of alcohol remains a problem among passenger vehicle drivers and commercial vehicle drivers alike, but semi-truck drivers sometimes use other dangerous and illegal drugs to stay awake behind the wheel or to cope with the physical rigors of the job
- Driving too fast for conditions: Speed can be a contributing factor in the severity of any collision, and semi-truck drivers who exceed the speed limit are carelessly endangering others’ lives
Defective Vehicle or Vehicle Parts
Commercial vehicles and their related components are sometimes put into service with a design flaw or manufacturing defect that makes them dangerous to their drivers and others on the road. In recent years, semi-trucks and their corresponding parts have been recalled due to:
- Faulty brakes
- Defective tires
- Loose bolts
- Electrical failures
- Steer axle defects
- Transmission defects
- Flawed emissions control systems
If a defective vehicle or faulty vehicle part contributed to a crash, the manufacturer may be held liable for damages.
Improper Cargo Loading
Tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles that are overloaded or improperly loaded increase the risk for a crash as well as the potential severity of that crash.
Yet cargo loaders sometimes exceed weight limits or are careless in how they balance the freight. When improper loading is a factor in a crash, the shipping agent or cargo loader may be held accountable.
Because of wear-and-tear on semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, they require more frequent maintenance than most passenger vehicles.
Poorly maintained vehicles increase the risk for a crash. Trucking companies and maintenance providers can be held liable for damages if inadequate maintenance plays a role in a crash.
Insufficient Driver Training
Semi-truck and other types of commercial drivers are in high demand right now, and shipping companies sometimes employ drivers who aren’t yet ready for the demands of the job. Inexperience can adversely affect how truck drivers deal with challenging circumstances, such as heavy traffic, hazardous weather or dangerous road conditions.
When an unqualified driver causes a crash, the trucking company or truck owner may share liability for resulting injuries and other damages.
Cincinnati Truck Accident Attorneys Serving the Tri-State Region
The Cincinnati attorneys at Young, Reverman & Mazzei are dedicated to helping semi-truck accident victims from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana recover the financial security they need to get their lives back on track. Please call us today at 513-721-1200 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
We serve injury victims in the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas, as well as Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties in Kentucky and Dearborn County in Indiana. See our Locations page for a complete list of offices and directions.