When two cars crash, the damage can be catastrophic. But when a semi-truck becomes involved in a car crash, the results are even worse. The big trucks on the highway can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and compared to the average car, which weighs roughly 3,500 pounds, there is no contest.
The same statistics, compiled by the DOT, NHTSA, NCSA and other organizations, show that 22 percent of truck accidents result in injuries, roughly 130,000 a year overall. In addition, the accidents cost American taxpayers $20 billion a year, $13.1 billion of which is for lost quality of life.
Trucking Wreck? Your Next Steps
An accident with a big truck can be daunting. Aside from the trauma from the crash, oftentimes truck drivers work for big companies with even bigger insurance companies. We can help.
Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC has more than two decades’ experience litigating truck accidents from our offices in Tucson’s Barrio Historico. The firm is familiar and experienced with Arizona law and will make sure your concerns are addressed, and that you or your loved one receives all the treatment and compensation to which you are entitled.
Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Arizona
As with any accident, large truck crashes can occur for a variety of reasons. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists some of the most common:
- Loss of control of the truck after driving due to some event like a tire blowout
- Disabling or non-disabling vehicle failure – engine problem or hood flew up
- Another motor vehicle encroaching on the truck ‘s lane
- Poor road conditions due to poor road maintenance or weather
- Traveling too fast for road conditions
- Shifting cargo
- Lane drifting – by either the truck or a passenger vehicle
- Driving off the edge of the road
- Improper truck maneuvering during events (turns and passing through intersections)
- Coming upon a stopped vehicle
- Finding objects on the highway
- Driver fatigue.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Being a truck driver is not easy. Long hours of driving along with a lack of proper rest can dull the senses and slow reaction times. Estimates of truck crash causes suggest fatigue is a factor in up to 30 percent of fatal crashes and 15 percent of serious injury crashes. National Transport Insurance also estimates that two factors – fatigue and inappropriate speed – contribute to more than 42 percent of crashes. As a result, the FMCSA has put regulations in place limiting drivers to no more than 70 hours behind the wheel per week; drivers may not work again unless they have a minimum of 34 hours of sleep per week, and they must take at least one 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift and limit driving to 11 hours per day. Even these strict rules, though, are little solace to someone who has had an accident involving a large truck whose driver is too tired to react properly.
Substance Abuse & Truck Drivers
Aside from fatigue, or perhaps because of it, is also the risk of drivers driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It is a fairly common phenomenon. In 2013, Reuters conducted a worldwide survey to attempt to find how prevalent substance abuse was in the industry. Among their findings was a US study that reported the highest alcohol rate in the world among drivers at 12.5 percent. The National Transportation Safety Board and National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted their own study. In it, they investigated fatal truck crashes in eight states in a one-year period, examining drug screenings and blood specimens on 168 fatally-injured drivers.
Scale of Distracted Driving
Even drivers that follow regulations can lapse; as anyone who has ever gone a road trip knows, driving for hours at a time can be tedious and tiring, and the mind naturally seeks diversion. Driving long hours every day can be exceptionally grueling. For all vehicle types 3,179 people were killed and 3,179 were injured as a result of distracted driving. According to the FMCSA, a 2009 study found that 71 percent, or almost one of four, large truck accidents were the result of a driver distraction.
Truck Driver Distraction
Distracted driving is an issue with all types of vehicles, but it can be exceptionally dangerous in an 80,000-pound truck. Distract.gov defines any type of activity that takes the driver’s attention from the road a driver distraction, including:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Precautions on Arizona Highways
There is no way to avoid every accident, but there are ways to reduce the odds of having them. To avoid a crash with a big truck, a few common-sense techniques can help avoid tragedy. First, if a truck is moving into your lane, let them. Don’t try to pass. Big trucks have big blind spots, and can’t maneuver as quickly as a car. Second, give extra room for turns; with a trailer, the truck may have to swing far out into an intersection. Last, never get too close. When a truck stops quickly, there is little room for error if you are in a small car.
Contact Our Trucking Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been involved a truck crash, contact the Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible for a free consultation to evaluate the merits of the claim. We receive no fees and you pay no out-of-pocket expenses unless we successfully resolve your claim, but it is important to contact a legal representative quickly to make sure your claim is filed before the deadlines set by Arizona law have passed.
If you have been in a truck accident, contact Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC today. Our team of experienced lawyers are here to help. Set up a free consultation to make sure your rights are protected by professionals.