The trucking industry is alive and well. At $610 billion per year, revenues for the trucking industry are booming, and these revenues are expected to double as soon as 2015. Despite the success of the trucking industry, it is an unfortunately reality that trucking negligence is responsible for thousands of deaths to people in passenger vehicles every year. And studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have shown that 98% of the fatalities caused by trucking negligence are suffered by people in passenger vehicles.
Despite technological advances, the number of large trucks involved in fatal personal injury accidents has steadily increased, up roughly 10% from 1992-2002. What’s more is that a fatal trucking accident can occur at the most unexpected moment. For example, the vast majority of large truck accidents occur during good weather, on dry roads, during the daytime, and on weekends. There are roughly 5,000 fatal truck accidents every year in the United States. In 2001, 429,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes in the United States. These numbers are staggering. What’s more staggering is that these statistics refer to only one of thethree categories of street legal trucks: there are light trucks, medium trucks, and large trucks.
Light trucks include:
Medium Trucks Include:
Cutaway van chassis
Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
Heavy trucks include
The Trucking Industry
In the United States, the trucking industry is, by a wide margin, the largest transporter of goods.
Very often we do not think about the journey that our consumer goods take before they reach us. There is a saying that goes, “If you bought it, a truck brought it.”
Unfortunately the trucking industry suffers from the same drawbacks as it did 50 or 75 years ago, one of them is catastrophic truck accidents. And the trucking industry knows exactly what causes truck accidents. As of yet, they have not created solutions to the same problems that have been plaguing the industry since the inception of the motor vehicle.
What are the frequent causes of trucking negligence, truck accidents, and personal injuries due to trucking accidents?
There are several causes of truck accidents that are unique to the trucking industry:
- Stopping Distance of Trucks—large trucks, in particular 18-wheelers, need significantly more room to stop than other vehicles. If truck drivers do not account for this limitation, there is a significant chance of a rear-end collision with another motor vehicle. With a 3,000 lb to 80,000 lb ratio between the average weight of a car and the average weight of a large truck, there is a significant risk of catastrophic injury due to truck accidents.
- No-zones/Blind Spots—trucks have numerous and vast blind spots, also known as no-zones. When a truck does not see a car in its blind spot, a truck can easily cause a serious personal injury in addition to massive property damage.
- Off track—this occurs when a truck turns at too high a speed and the truck breeches into the next lane in an unexpected manner.
- Improperly secured load/incorrectly loaded cargo
- Negligent maintenance improper maintenance
- Overweight load/overloaded—there is a clear incentive to place as large a load as possible on each truck.
- Driver fatigue—one of the major factors leading to truck accidents stems from the impossible schedules truck drivers must adhere to. It is true that federal and state laws have been enacted to limit hours of service, and drivers must maintain a work log to show compliance. However, truck drivers have a huge incentive to drive in excess of their work logs in order to increase their income. It is estimated by the National Transportation Safety Board that driver fatigue is responsible for 20-40% of truck accidents.
The trucking industry knows, to a statistical certainty, that their trucks will cause an astronomical number of personal injuries and fatalities. The trucking industry is also aware that there will be billions of dollars in liability and claims due to truck accidents each year.
The response of the trucking industry
With these statistics, one might ask: how has the trucking industry responded? The answer is clear. The trucking industry has taken every effort to mitigate their liability. As a result, truck companies and carriers have developed complicated and complex procedures for dealing with truck accidents. Truck companies have become very skilled at investigating truck accidents, and they have also become very savvy at reducing claims against them. The victims of trucking negligence are the ones who suffer.
Role of the truck accident attorney
Our national interstate economy absolutely relies on the trucking industry. With the necessary use of trucks, comes the unfortunate certainty of truck accidents, truck accident injuries, and truck accident deaths. In the event of a truck accident, it can be difficult to find people to turn to. Defense attorneys, insurance companies, and trucking companies are all set on avoiding liability.
It is the role of the plaintiff’s truck accident attorney to protect the interests of those injured in trucking accidents. Truck accident attorneys are the watchdogs who ensure that victims aren’t swept under the rug of the trucking industry. In the event of a truck accident, contact a truck accident attorney immediately.
Adam J. Zayed is a litigation attorney with a focus on catastrophic injury, trucking negligence, trial law, and litigation. Mr. Zayed is also a principal of Law Offices of Adam J. Zayed, P.C. a law firm in the Chicago area.