Common Traffic Law Violations That Result in Truck Accidents
The most recent data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) reveals that large trucks were involved in almost 30,000 crashes in 2016. Motor vehicle accidents might cause significant injury and emotional and financial consequences. When you add the weight and size of a truck to an accident, the consequences oftentimes multiply. Truck drivers, like all drivers, have a duty to others on the road to drive with care. When they violate traffic regulations that lead to injury or death, they have breached that duty and a Florida court may hold them responsible.
Here are some of the most common traffic law violations that result in truck accidents, according the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any activity that takes your attention away from driving. This includes eating, adjusting the radio, and adjusting a GPS. Truck drivers aren’t breaking the law when they do these things, but federal law prohibits truck drivers from using a cell phone. Drivers may push one button to initiate or terminate a call, but they must use the hands-free feature. Texting while driving is most dangerous because it takes the average person’s eyes off the road for at least five seconds, often resulting in an accident or near-accident.
Driving Under the Influence
A study that pooled data from 36 previous studies from 2000 to 2013 found that truck drivers around the world commonly use alcohol and drugs because of grueling working conditions. Of the drivers who were interviewed for the studies, 54 percent admitted to drinking on the job and more than 40 percent admitted to using amphetamines at one time or another to stay awake while driving. The way the data was collected might have inflated these numbers might, but they still speak to a serious issue, and a traffic violation, that leads to fatal accidents.
According to the FMCSA, among fatal crashes that included large trucks in 2016, more than 13 percent of truck drivers who were tested had some sort of drug in their system. More than 20 percent had a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08 percent in fatal crashes during the same time period. Controlled substances impair a driver’s senses, including the ability to judge time and distance, often leading to accidents.
In 2016, speeding was the most common driver-related factor in fatal accidents that involved large trucks in the United States; more than 30 percent of these truck drivers were speeding. Semi-trucks and other heavy trucks, depending on the size of their loads, weigh between 20 and 30 times more than a car. Driving too fast, especially during rain, makes stopping or adjustments to hazards difficult. It’s also much easier to lose control. In wet conditions, a truck may jackknife, causing a multi-vehicle accident. When speeding trucks cause an accident, the injuries are often more severe and more likely to be fatal.
Failure to Yield
Much like speeding, when truck drivers violate the traffic law and fail to yield, they cannot stop quickly when they notice another vehicle. In some cases, they may not see another vehicle at all. Distracted driving may promote a failure to yield, but it also is an artifact of drivers who are on tight schedules and focused on getting to their destinations. Consequently, they do not always pay close attention to anything that isn’t directly in front of them.
Failure to Obey Traffic Signs or Signals
These violations often tie in closely with distracted driving. It’s not likely that a truck driver will run a stoplight or stop sign on purpose. Perhaps they are looking for a business or driving in an unfamiliar area. Much like with failing to yield, truck drivers are focused on other aspects of their job besides driving. If a car strikes a truck when it has run a stop sign or stoplight, it may result in an underride accident, where the car gets lodged under the trailer of a semi-truck. These extremely severe accidents are in many cases fatal.
Following Too Closely
Automobile drivers are advised to keep a two-second distance between them and any vehicle they follow. Truck drivers need extra space for braking and unexpected movements. A recent study reported that 5 percent of all truck crashes occur when the truck driver is following a vehicle too closely. The FMSCA suggests that tractor-trailer drivers should leave at least a four-second gap with the vehicle in front of them for speeds at less than 40 miles per hour. When traveling at higher speeds, drivers should add one more second. When traveling in inclement weather, the gap should double to eight seconds. When a truck driver follows too closely and causes an accident, it might result in severe injuries.
Truck accident injuries are often the most severe of any motor vehicle accidents. Victims who live through a truck crash might sustain some of the most debilitating injuries—amputation, paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, or life-long chronic neck and back pain. If you were injured in a truck accident because the truck driver violated traffic regulations, you might recover damages related to your injury.
A skilled personal injury attorney who has experience with the complexities of truck accident cases can handle the details of your case, such as investigating the accident, speaking with witnesses, and navigating the complex legal process involved with truck drivers, trucking companies, and their insurance carriers, while you focus on recovering. The experienced legal team at Dolman Law Group fights to attain the best possible outcomes for its clients. Call us today at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
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Clearwater, FL 33765