In the past, unsafe vehicles have been referred to by some as “metal death traps.” The term has also been attributed to dangerous roads or intersections. This term can describe the scenario a 22-year-old woman found herself in when a tanker truck flipped and landed on her sedan, pinning and trapping her inside. Emergency rescuers had to work quickly to remove the victim from her crushed vehicle after the crash occurred in Clarksville, Tennessee, in January 2017. The victim was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to be treated for injuries. The tanker truck driver, employed by Clarksville Gas and Water, was also injured and taken to Tennova Healthcare for evaluation.
Truck accidents in the United States have increased steadily over the last few years, and there is no sign of them significantly slowing down anytime soon. Many of these accidents can be attributed to a number of common culprits.
Driver error is one of the most common contributors to truck accidents. In fact, one study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that nearly 87% of truck crashes are attributed to truck driver error. In Tennessee, truckers are required to have a special driver’s license to operate commercial vehicles like tanker trucks. Despite this fact, many truck accidents occur because truck drivers fail to responsibly operate their vehicles, even after possessing the required skill, knowledge, and training needed to operate these large vehicles. Truck rollover accidents, like the Clarksville one mentioned above, are often caused by speeding, sharp turns, improper weight distribution, or any combination of these factors. The risk of truck rollover accidents increases when a driver is fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Fatigue is a huge problem affecting truck drivers. In response to the danger of driver fatigue, the FMCSA implemented federal hours of service regulations, which restrict the number of hours a truck driver can continually drive without rest. Truck drivers must accurately log their driving hours to ensure compliance with this rule. However, many drivers falsify logbook information in order to stay on the road as long as possible and complete deliveries faster.
A third prevalent cause of trucking accidents is equipment error. Equipment error includes both defective design and improper maintenance, and attributes to roughly thousands of truck accidents each year. Failure to include an operational backing warning, faulty object detection systems, and defective tires are all examples of defective truck design. Improper maintenance can also cause accidents. Commercial trucking companies and drivers are charged with making sure they keep their big rigs in sufficient working order. Improper maintenance could lead to maintenance violations, which in turn could lead to forfeiture of a driver’s commercial driver’s license. Examples of improper maintenance include failing to provide upkeep to rear and side lighting, brake failure due to inadequate adjustments, and driving on worn down tires.
While truck drivers may not be able to control the weather or environmental factors, they are responsible with driving reasonable under a given set of circumstances. For example, truck drivers operating rigs during winter are susceptible to icy conditions, which increase the likelihood of accidents. Low visibility conditions as a result of heavy rain or fog also pose a threat to safety.
It is important to know that all of these causes of truck accidents could result in liability against a truck driver and a commercial trucking company in a personal injury lawsuit. If you have been injured in an override accident due to a truck driver’s negligence call the Tennessee tractor-trailer wreck attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz to discuss your options.