The most common causes of truck accidents are driver error prior to and during the trip, mechanical failures, weather conditions, road design and traffic signal failure. This article will discuss truckdriver errors that result in trucking accident and injuries.
The most common cause of trucking accidents is driver error. It should be noted that drivers of large trucks are 10 times more likely to be the cause of a crash than other factors such as weather, road conditions or vehicle performance. This is according to a study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which found that the action or inaction by drivers was the critical reason for 88% of crashes. Human error includes factors such as the use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, speeding, fatigue, distractions, work environment and unfamiliarity with the road. All of these contribute to driver error.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study also examined factors that cause truck drivers to make such errors. The study found that of all truck accidents caused by driver error:
44% involved truckers who were taking prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs
23% involved drivers travelling too fast for conditions
18% were caused by driver fatigue
Fatigue results in truck drivers falling asleep, being inattentive, misjudging gaps, ignoring the signs of impending dangers, panicking, freezing and under or overreacting to a situation. While fatigue is a common cause of truck accidents, it is also the most preventable. It is important to note that federal regulations set out rules to ensure that truck drivers get the necessary rest and restorative sleep so as to drive safely. Under such regulations, truck drivers are allowed to work a maximum of 14 hours a day during which time the maximum they can drive for is 11 hours. Therefore, the driver must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before the start of a shift. Furthermore, the driver cannot drive after being on duty for 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. If you are involved in an accident where you suspect that the driver fell asleep or failed to react properly, you will need to prove that there has been a violation of the hours of service rules. In order to prove this, you will want to seek out the help of the best personal injury law firms with lawyers experienced in trucking accidents.
When it comes to drug use, drivers are forbidden from using controlled substances unless they are prescribed by a licensed physician who is familiar with the driver’s medical history and assigned duties. Further, the licensed physician has to determine that the drug use will not adversely affect the driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. It is a federal regulation requirement that trucking companies:
Test their drivers for alcohol and drug use as a condition of employment
Carry out periodic random tests on the drivers while they are on duty and after an accident involving a fatality
While driver error accounts for up to 88% of traffic accidents, some factors relating to driver error can be avoided.