Recent Semi Truck Accidents in Florida
Commercial truckers are some of the safest drivers on the road. That’s primarily because they’re held to higher safety standards and they’re constantly monitored. Before truckers drive commercial vehicles, they must meet stringent licensing requirements. Florida Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) officers stop them regularly to perform safety inspections. If CVE discovers a critical safety violation, they pull truckers and their vehicles out of service immediately.
Unfortunately, because of long hours on the road, carelessness, and distractions, some truck drivers still cause accidents. When they collide with a smaller vehicle, it’s rarely a simple fender bender. Large trucks weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. “Heavy” large trucks weigh in at 26,000 pounds plus. As private passenger vehicles average only 4,000 pounds, it’s easy to see how a collision between a car and a semi could lead to serious injuries or death. It’s no surprise that 73 percent of the persons killed nationwide in truck/car accidents were occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Florida’s Semi Truck Accidents of 2018
The NHTSA’s most recent Traffic Safety Facts: Large Trucks publication shows that large trucks accounted for 6 percent of the vehicles involved in fatal Florida accidents. That sounds like a small number, but it translates to 275 truck crashes ending in death. Even if those statistics don’t make you cringe, they should encourage you to keep your distance from large trucks while on the road. Of course, that’s difficult to do with 37,230 trucking companies registered in the state and so many trucks driving Florida highways.
It’s not unusual to hear about a semi-truck accident in the news. You’ve probably noticed that they’re not all the same. Each accident is the result of a unique set of circumstances, conditions, and human factors. Damages and injuries vary. Truck accidents don’t always end in death, but they often produce complicated outcomes, as evidenced by recent Florida truck accidents.
Alachua County, May 30, 2018
A 30-year old pickup driver was killed after colliding with a tractor-trailer. The driver crossed in front of the bigger truck at the intersection of CR 235 and NW 78th Avenue. The vehicles collided, then veered off the road and onto some nearby railroad tracks. When they finally came to a stop, the larger vehicle was on top of the pickup. According to WCJB Channel 20, the State Trooper who investigated the accident seemed convinced that the pickup driver stopped before entering the intersection. He just couldn’t figure out why he failed to notice the oncoming semi.
Had this been a collision between two private passenger vehicles, the crash might still have occurred, but the outcome could easily have been different.
- A less severe impact would have taken place if the two vehicles were closer in weight to the pickup.
- The tractor-trailer could have avoided the accident by stopping in time.
- The semi’s load of rocks likely added to the momentum, keeping both vehicles moving post-impact.
- As the larger truck landed on top of the smaller truck, the added weight likely contributed to the pickup driver’s death.
- Had the pickup driver not driven while distracted, he might have avoided the collision altogether.
Hernando County, April 18, 2018
An accident between a tractor-trailer and a school bus ended with a less tragic outcome than you’d expect. The bus was en route to Hernando High School when a semi failed to stop after exiting I-75. The truck struck the school bus, detached the rear axle, and sent the bus into a spin. It overturned and skidded to a stop 50 yards away from where the impact occurred.
Two students kicked open the emergency hatch so passengers could exit. All 18 of the students were shaken up by the incident but only six required treatment for their injuries.
Walton County, March 23, 2018
A tractor-trailer driver was seriously injured in a single-vehicle accident on I-10. Some of the 149 cows he was transporting died in the accident and 66 escaped. The Sheriff’s office shut down a section of I-10 while local citizens rounded up the cows as they roamed the highway.
Nassau County, March 17, 2018
A southbound box-truck driver broke through the I-95 median barrier and struck a northbound semi. Both vehicles sustained heavy damage and the impact scattered debris across the highway. The 56-year old semi driver died at the scene and the box-truck driver sustained serious injuries. Florida Highway Patrol shut down the highway for four hours while workers cleared away debris.
How Can Truckers Prevent Accidents?
Each year the National Transportation Safety Board monitors transportation trends and provides recommendations to reduce accident numbers. The agency promotes certain recommended best practices via the NTSB Most Wanted List. The 2017-2018 NTSB list offers six suggestions to facilitate trucking safety.
- Collision avoidance technologies – Early warning systems to notify truckers about safety issues, autonomous braking systems to stop vehicles and avoid collisions
- Substance impairment elimination – New laws to address alcohol, legal marijuana, and synthetic drug use
- Medical fitness – Transportation policies that require a certain degree of medical health in drivers
- Fatigue reduction – Adequate rest (By 2019 most truckers must install Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, to monitor drive-time compliance)
- Distraction elimination – Changes in regulations and driver thinking/behavior
- Trip documentation – Data recorders for “black box”–style tracking of adverse trucking events
What Can You Do?
When a car collides with a semi-truck, often inevitable damage and injuries takes place. To reduce injury severity, the NTSB Most Wanted List recommends “better occupant protection” for all transportation modes. It’s one of the few ways to minimize injuries when a crash occurs.
Also, the vintage slogan that urged motorists to “drive defensively” is still a viable method of avoiding semi-truck accidents on Florida highways. The concept encourages drivers to keep themselves out of danger. If all of the drivers in the above scenarios—including the truckers—had driven defensively, several of the accidents might not have occurred.
Despite careful safeguards, trucker safety precautions, and government regulations and mandates, accidents can happen anyway. If you or your family member is injured in a truck accident, consider seeking immediate legal representation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help protect your family’s rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you are owed for your injuries.
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