Protecting Your Rights after an Auto-Big Truck Collision

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Fighting the Laws of Physics

You only have to drive on the nation’s highways and Interstates a few moments to understand just how much of the traffic we encounter involves commercial trucks and eighteen wheelers. There are more than 1.9 million semi-trailer trucks registered in the U.S. and 3.2 million licensed truck drivers. These drivers cover more than 150 billion miles a year and carry 68 percent of all goods sold. A fully-loaded semi will often weigh in at 80,000 pounds.

Those numbers provide some insight into why we encounter so many trucks. It also explains why we can be intimidated in our puny autos that average only 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. The simple facts of physics are that when cars are involved in accidents with big rigs, the results are not very pretty. In fact, a disproportionate number of traffic fatalities are caused by accidents with these commercial trucks. While large trucks comprise only 4 percent of total traffic, they are involved in more than 13 percent of all accidents causing fatalities.

Understanding the Causes

Commercial trucking is important to our economy and most drivers of the large trucks are professionals who attempt to drive safely. However, these drivers and their companies are under immense pressure to generate profits and accumulate as many miles as they can in as short a time as possible. Handling massive rigs at high speeds means that only a small error can have catastrophic consequences.

In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board spends a lot of time and money evaluating every truck accident in fine detail. These experts attempt to evaluate the causal factors in such crashes and take steps to deal with them. Just 15 years ago, the NTSB issued a warning about one of the most concerning factors, driver fatigue. It found that 30 to 40 percent of all diesel truck accidents could be attributed in part to driver fatigue. This means that drivers had manhandled 80,000 pound loads for too many hours. While the NTSB continues to modify regulations dealing with total hours a driver can be on the road, the problems persist.

According to the NTSB, other factors that contribute to truck accidents include:

  • Lack of training and experience
  • Speeding
  • Inadequate maintenance of the truck
  • Worn or defective tires
  • Poor driving conditions
  • Overloaded and improperly loaded trucks
  • Failure to yield right-of-way
  • Aggressive and reckless driving

When Accidents Occur
There are experienced personal injury lawyers that know how to properly investigate and deal with an auto-truck accident. You should understand that the large trucking companies have attorneys and insurance personnel on call 24/7 to protect their rights in the event of an accident. If you or a loved one is involved in a collision with a truck, the first step in protecting your rights is contacting a qualified attorney to seek advice and guidance.