Truck Accidents in Modern Society
Unless you were involved in an 18-wheeler accident yourself, you may not know that these dangerous and frightening crashes take place every day on roads across Florida and the entire United States. While you may hear about such accidents briefly on the news, you may not realize the risks of an accident happening to you until it is too late.
The trucking industry has changed a lot during the past few decades and is constantly evolving. While trucking companies and regulators state they aim to make commercial trucks safer on the roads, progress is often slow due to legislative setbacks and the reluctance of certain companies to take on extra expenses to make safety changes. Stay informed about truck accidents in our modern society and how it may hurt you as a driver.
Truck Accident Statistics
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes statistics regarding large commercial vehicles, accidents and injuries, and specific trends regarding accidents each year. For the most recent year available, 2015, FMCSA released the following statistics:
- 11,203,184 commercial trucks were registered in the United States
- Trucks traveled more than 279,000 million miles
- More than 551,000 people held commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs)
- About 480,000 commercial vehicles were involved in crashes
- About 116,000 people sustained injuries in commercial vehicle crashes
- 3,838 people died in crashes involving commercial vehicles
As you can see, commercial truck crashes are fairly prevalent on our nation’s roads and highways. With more than 100,000 people sustaining injuries each year, you always risk it happening to you.
While you can drive as safely as possible around large trucks, you cannot control the behaviors of truck drivers or trucking companies. Many truck accidents happen because truck drivers made errors in judgment or violated the law in some way—either state traffic laws or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
According to the FMCSA report, the most common modern driver violations discovered during roadside inspections of trucks were as follows, in order of frequency:
- Not having up-to-date driving and hour logs
- Speeding as much as ten miles an hour more than the posted speed limit
- Not wearing seat belts
- Exceeding the allowed hours of service
- Not having current and valid medical certificates
- Not following traffic signals or signs
- Speeding 11 to 14 miles an hour more than the posted speed limit
- Violating lane restrictions
- Operating a truck without a valid CDL
- Using a handheld cell phone while driving
- Speeding more than 15 miles an hour more than the the posted speed limit
Police issued tens of thousands of citations for each of the above violations. Every time a commercial driver violates the law, it puts motorists in danger of serious crashes and injuries.
Trucking Industry Technology
Technology on large semi-trucks and tractor-trailers has come a long way since these trucks first made appearances on the road. After truck accidents, technology can play important roles in determining what led to crashes and whom injured parties may hold liable for their losses. Important technological features on these vehicles include:
- Event data recorder – After a plane crash, we often hear that investigators are searching for the plane’s black box so they can see what happened with the plane just before the crash. Commercial trucks have similar devices called event data recorders. These devices record the speed of the truck, whether the brakes engaged, and other important information that can help investigators decide what caused a crash and how a driver reacted.
- Truck cameras – Many trucks are beginning to have cameras mounted on dashboards. These cameras may aim at the road in front of trucks, at drivers, or both. Footage from cameras can indicate how drivers operated the truck (were they following too closely or passing improperly?) or how they acted behind the wheel (were they distracted and looking away from the road?). These can help answer questions in the event of a crash.
- Electronic logs – In years prior, truck drivers hand-recorded the hours they drove, which authorities could check for compliance with hours of service regulations. However, drivers could easily falsify these logbooks to cover up violations, which increased the risk of fatigued drivers on the road. Now, the FMCSA requires electronic logging of hours to help ensure compliance and prevent fatigued driving. Regulators can check these logs to see if a driver exceeded the hours of service restrictions when a crash occurred.
The above are only some trucking technologies that can play important roles when accidents occur. Looking to the future, the trucking industry may begin introducing more automation in trucks that may help to prevent crashes and driver errors. Such technologies may include automatic braking, automatic steering, lane departure detection, and more. It will be interesting to see if automation truly does reduce the number of truck accidents across the United States.
Injured in an Accident? Call the Dolman Law Group to Speak with a Clearwater Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Commercial truck accidents injure thousands of innocent victims each year. Fortunately, in many cases, Florida law allows truck accident victims to recover compensation for the losses they sustain—and larger truck accident insurance minimums often result in significant settlements or awards.
At the Dolman Law Group, our truck accident attorneys understand how getting hurt in an accident can devastate you. We do everything we can to help victims get the compensation they deserve, and large trucking insurance companies do not intimidate us. We offer free, no-obligation consultations and a no-recovery, no-fee guarantee—which means that we will not collect any legal fees from you unless you receive compensation from the person or business that caused your accident. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, call the Dolman Law Group today at (727) 451-6900. You can also contact us online by filling out and submitting our online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765