A head-on collision can cause immense damage to both vehicles and severe injury to everyone in the vehicle. A head-on collision with a big truck can severely injure and, in many cases, kill the other vehicle's occupants. Unfortunately, negligent behavior on the part of a truck driver can substantially increase the risk of a head-on collision.
Why Do Head-On Truck Collisions Occur?
Head-on truck collisions may occur for many reasons outside the control of the parties in the other vehicle.
Sometimes, a head-on truck collision may occur as a direct result of a damaged vehicle, often due to poor maintenance by the trucking company. A head-on collision may occur because of brake failure, for example, if the truck tries to stop but the driver cannot bring the vehicle to a safe stop.
In addition, head-on collisions may occur because of steering failures. If the driver cannot safely control the vehicle, the driver can't turn the vehicle safely and avoid an accident.
Suppose the truck owner, including a corporate owner, fails to take proper care of the vehicle, including taking care of needed maintenance. In that case, the owner may bear liability for the vehicle. Often, big trucking companies will ignore the warnings of their drivers or signs that the truck may require maintenance and attention. In those cases, the company may bear liability for ignoring those warnings.
Drowsy driving can pose problems for any driver, but particularly for truck drivers, who must control much larger vehicles and who may need to stay fully awake to control those vehicles safely.
Drowsy driving can occur because the truck driver spends too many hours on the road, even though federal law mandates the number of hours a driver can spend behind the wheel each day. Those mandates allow truck drivers to spend up to 11 hours of a 14-hour shift behind the wheel each day, which may mean too many hours for the driver to avoid road haze or to stave off sleepiness.
In addition, truck drivers typically spend long hours away from home. They may sleep in various uncomfortable or unfamiliar locations, making it difficult to fall asleep each night. As a result, they may end up short on sleep when they get behind the wheel, increasing the risk of drowsy driving or falling asleep behind the wheel. Furthermore, truck drivers may end up called in at odd hours of the night, leaving them short on sleep and unable to operate their vehicles as safely as they might prefer.
FMCSA regulations require drivers to avoid the use of alcohol behind the wheel. Unfortunately, a high percentage of truck drivers may choose to drink to stave off loneliness or isolation at the end of the day. High numbers of truck drivers drink regularly. Sometimes, that may mean that a driver ends up behind the wheel while intoxicated. Other times, the driver may drink while driving. Those dangerous behaviors can substantially increase the risk of many types of accidents.
At even a low level of intoxication, drivers may have difficulty making critical judgment calls and controlling their vehicles safely. A very intoxicated driver may cross the dividing line between lanes, causing a head-on collision with another vehicle.
Truck drivers may have many distractions that have the potential to demand their attention behind the wheel. Not only do they face the same general potential for distraction that any driver may face, including possible cell phone use, but they may also grow distracted by trying to check a GPS to manage their route or by radio chatter.
In addition, truck drivers may be more likely to engage in some behaviors behind the wheel. They may frequently eat and drink while driving to save time and avoid unnecessary stops. They may also zone out more often than other drivers since they may spend more hours on the road.
Truck drivers, however, may need to pay closer attention to the road than other drivers. A temporary lack of attention can lead to serious dangers as a truck driver struggles to bring the vehicle back under control. Trucks can travel a great distance within just a few seconds. Every second may count when a truck driver needs to bring that vehicle to a safe stop since the driver may need more room to stop and maneuver than the average passenger vehicle driver. Those distractions can result in devastating head-on collisions.
High Speeds Around Curves
Truck drivers generally try to travel at a safe rate of speed. Many highways and interstates even have lower speed limits for big trucks due to their greater size and greater difficulty maneuvering safely. Despite that knowledge, some truck drivers may increase their speed rate to decrease the time they have to spend on the road or make tight deadlines.
High speeds can, in general, prove very dangerous for big trucks since they do need so much more room to complete turns safely or come to a full stop. High speeds may prove even more dangerous around curves, particularly on curvy or mountainous roads. On those roads, big trucks may have a high risk of crossing over the center line and causing a collision with another vehicle.
Big truck drivers may naturally need more room to complete a turn safely than drivers of other vehicles. Inexperienced drivers, in particular, may have difficulty navigating tight turns, where they may have relatively poor overall visibility. When a truck driver turns too wide, the truck may cross into another traffic lane, causing a head-on collision with the vehicles already occupying that lane.
Drivers may need to pay careful attention to their road behaviors to ensure that they do not take too wide turns or pose a danger to other vehicles. The drivers of passenger vehicles may not realize that the truck driver needs more room or that the truck driver needs them to stay out of the way to complete the turn safely.
Driving the Wrong Way
Sometimes, a truck driver may turn wrong and travel the wrong way down a one-way street or ramp. Going the wrong way can prove particularly hazardous for truck drivers, who may need substantial room to turn the vehicle around safely. Once a truck driver starts going the wrong way, getting the vehicle back on the right track can take considerable time.
Many truck drivers rely heavily on GPS to get them around unfamiliar areas, especially if they have never seen the area before or do not know exactly where they need to go. Sometimes, however, the GPS may provide inaccurate information. A GPS that senses the vehicle's location just a few yards away from its actual location may send a driver down the wrong road, particularly if the driver does not double-check street signs before turning.
Other drivers on the road may have few options for getting away from a driver driving the wrong way down the street. As a result, the truck driver may end up in a devastating collision before he can correct the error.
Inexperienced truck drivers may have a much higher risk of committing the kinds of errors on the road that can lead to devastating accidents. Many truck drivers do not receive adequate training to help them deal with every hazard they may face on the road. Drivers often do not know how to react when they end up in a bad situation, from suffering a brake failure at the wrong moment to discovering that they have gone the wrong way down a one-way road.
In addition, inexperienced drivers may have more trouble navigating tight curves or in bad weather. They may, as a result, have a much harder time avoiding a collision under those circumstances.
In addition, inexperienced drivers may have a greater risk of panicking when they get involved in a tight spot. They may react dangerously, from slamming on the gas instead of the brakes to over-steering out of a turn, which could increase the risk of several types of collisions.
After a Head-On Collision with a Truck: Your Next Steps
Head-on truck collisions often result in severe injuries. In many cases, accident victims will be transported to the hospital by ambulance following a head-on truck collision. That initial trip to the hospital may just be the beginning of the high medical bills that may come your way after the accident.
How can you get compensation for those injuries?
In many cases, if the truck driver or trucking company's negligence led to your head-on truck collision, you may have the right to recover substantial compensation for your injuries. However, you may need to protect your rights and ensure you do not miss out on much-deserved compensation.
Get a copy of the police report.
Contact the local police department to get a copy of the police report, or request one from your local police station online. Review the accident report to ensure it accurately reflects where and when the accident occurred and any vital details about the accident.
If you notice any inaccurate information, you may want to contact the police department and try to have that information changed to more accurately reflect the circumstances of your accident, if possible.
Get in touch with an experienced truck accident attorney.
A head-on truck collision may cause devastating injuries and ongoing suffering. You do not want to have to handle a truck accident claim on your own. Instead, get in touch with a truck accident attorney.
A truck accident attorney will start by helping you understand your rights. You may have the right to considerable compensation for your sustained damages. In many cases, the truck driver's insurance company will not offer you a reasonable settlement for your injuries, even though you deserve that compensation.
An attorney can help make sure you understand your rights. Then, an attorney can help you fight for them. An attorney can collect evidence about your accident, get a better look at all factors that may have contributed to the accident, and deal with the insurance company on your behalf, helping you maximize the compensation you can recover for your injuries.
Focus on your recovery.
The steps you follow in the recovery process can not only make a huge difference in your eventual recovery, but they can also impact the compensation you can acquire for your injuries.
Suppose the insurance company believes that you have deliberately limited your recovery. In that case, the insurance company may refuse to pay out the compensation you might otherwise deserve for those injuries and the suffering you may have faced.
On the other hand, if you carefully follow the instructions laid out by your doctor, take all necessary steps toward your recovery, and participate actively in therapy, you may find it easier to recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Track your bills and expenses related to the collision.
Keep track of your recovery, including all funds you may have spent on medical treatment. Those bills can serve as the essential foundation of your claim, and keeping track of them can make it easier for you to calculate exactly how much compensation you deserve.