Five Kinds of Truck Driver Negligence that Can Cause Serious Bicycle Accidents
Truck drivers have a high duty of care to others on the road with them. Trucks are larger than most of the other vehicles around them. Many trucks carry heavy cargo that must be loaded carefully to ensure it doesn’t lead to dangerous shifts in balance. Truckers also spend many long hours on the road, which can lead to fatigue, distraction, or false confidence in their abilities. The legal term for when truck drivers fail to fulfill their duty to keep others safe on Florida roads is “negligence.”
While most people assume that truck driver negligence will lead primarily to accidents with other motor vehicles, several types of truck driver negligence can also pose a high risk of causing cycle accidents. Here are five of those types of negligence:
#1: Driver Fatigue
Many truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel with few breaks. Truckers are legally allowed to drive for 11 hours of a 14-hour period after a break that lasts for at least ten hours. In many cases, however, truckers attempt to find ways to circumvent these restrictions, looking for opportunities to stay on the road longer. Today’s trucks often contain technology that will help log the hours truckers have spent behind the wheel; however, pen and paper logs may be falsified in an effort to add more miles or to meet deadlines. Driver fatigue can also start to mount by the time a truck driver nears the end of their shift, leading to less attention to the road or a struggle to stay awake. This can make it difficult to see bicyclists on the road, much less predict what they’re going to do, especially since bicycles tend not to follow the regular patterns of other drivers on the road.
#2: Distracted Driving
A simple two-second distraction behind the wheel of a car can be devastating, increasing the odds of an accident up to 20%. For truck drivers, that two-second distraction is even worse. With an instant’s inattention, they may swerve into the road. Since trucks sit up higher and must encompass a larger area, there’s more space that must be watched in the mirrors and in front of and behind the truck driver. Trucks may also have larger blind spots, making losing a bicycle all too easy. Distractions don’t have to take the form of cell phones, though that’s usually what people think of when they think about distracted driving. Simply looking down to change the channel on the radio or to open a bottle, unwrap a snack, or take care of other common tasks can lead to a driver who is too distracted to see a bicycle in a danger zone.
#3: Improperly Secured Cargo or Equipment
Most truck drivers take care to properly secure their cargo and equipment in order to minimize the potential for accidents. Improperly secured cargo can cause serious problems when truckers are on the road, leading to unbalanced loads that can make it harder to stop quickly if a bicycle appears on the road, especially if truckers aren’t able to predict the bicyclist’s actions. Failing to take the time to secure cargo and equipment properly may represent negligence, especially if it results in an accident. Poorly secured equipment can also present serious problems for many drivers, such as if it detaches at exactly the wrong moment and causes the truck driver to maneuver improperly, especially on tight residential streets where bicycles are most likely to be found.
Flying debris from vehicles and trucks can also cause significant damage to bicyclists, even those who are following the rules of the road. When cargo flies off the back of a truck, it can create hazards that bicyclists are unprepared to avoid. In this case, the responsibility lies with the truck driver, who is considered to be responsible for exercising due diligence in securing all of their cargo.
#4: Drinking or Doing Drugs and Driving
Driving under the influence is illegal in all 50 states. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always prevent truckers, who engage in high-stress jobs, from consuming illegal substances when they’re behind the wheel. Drinking and driving, smoking marijuana and driving, and other actions are all too common. In some cases, a trucker may not even deliberately get behind the wheel after consuming an illegal substance. Many prescription medications can also make it difficult to operate vehicles and other heavy machinery properly, as can common cold medicines available over the counter. A truck driver who does not ensure his ability to drive before taking those medications on the job, however, has likely acted negligently, especially if that decision results in an accident. Potential side effects of medications can increase distraction, make drivers sleepy behind the wheel, or cause blurred vision that will make it difficult to see bicycles and other potential hazards in the road.
#5: Taking the Wrong Route
Truckers do their best to keep their vehicles on roads that are large enough for them, allowing them not only room to maneuver down the street but room to turn around if needed. Most of the time, you won’t see big trucks in residential neighborhoods, where bicycles and pedestrians are most common. That doesn’t mean, however, that truckers never end up in those neighborhoods. Inattention to key details, like the streets that a truck is able to travel down, can result in truckers ending up on streets that aren’t intended for vehicles their size. This, in turn, increases the risk of accidents, from accidents with other vehicles to accidents involving bicycles. A driver who fails to conduct due diligence before starting his route or heading down a road that isn’t intended for them can be found to have acted negligently.
Don’t Wait to Get Help
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident involving a truck and a bicycle, in which the truck driver acted negligently, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Don’t wait to get the legal help and support you need. Contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group today online or by phone at (727) 451-6900 to set up your free consultation and learn more about the legal services we provide.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765