Semi-trailer trucks, referred to more commonly as 18-wheelers, pose a unique risk to other drivers on the road. These large vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, or 40 times the weight of an average passenger car. They can therefore cause significant damage and serious injury or death if they cause or are involved in an accident. Truck drivers must use caution and follow all laws to ensure that they do not put other motorists in danger. When truck operators do not follow rules and behave negligently, they may be held liable for any accidents that they cause.
Driving While Tired
One particular truck hazard is the risk of a driver operating a semi-trailer truck while tired. Truck drivers who drive too many hours at a time without adequate rest have a much higher chance of causing a crash. To reduce this risk, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created Hours of Service regulations that limit how many hours a truck driver may work at once. However, sometimes drivers or trucking companies knowingly violate these rules and put other road users in danger.
A tired driver is slower to react to sudden changes on the road than a rested driver and also is less alert. Some truck drivers have even fallen asleep at the wheel. When a driver cannot safely operate a semi-trailer truck, he or she may lose control and veer off of the road, jackknife, or even cause a rollover accident. Unsuspecting motorists may suddenly find themselves in the truck’s path of destruction and may be severely injured or even killed because of a negligent truck operator.
Accident Liability and Compensation
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident caused by a tired driver, you may have grounds to sue for an hours of service violation. The driver or truck company may be liable for the violation that led to your accident, and you may be entitled to financial compensation for your accident-related costs. An experienced truck accident lawyer can work with you to investigate your case and fight on your behalf for the compensation that you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages from time off of work, recovery costs, and pain and suffering
18 Wheeler Safety
18-Wheelers are a symbol of man’s dominance over the open road and sometimes can be a site for spectators. Yet, many people on the road become nervous when driving near them and avoid driving near them at any cost. This is due to the notion that 18-wheelers are unstable, fast, and capable of much destruction. Of course, it is not always wise to jump to conclusions, but it is good to avoid accident or injury whenever possible.
Reports show that 4% of automobile-related injuries involve 18-wheelers and 12% of automobile-related deaths involve 18-wheelers or other kinds of large trucks. Surprisingly, passengers of the vehicle opposite the 18-wheeler tend to suffer more injuries, while the 18-wheeler drivers themselves account for more of fatalities.
Many of us forget that drivers of 18-wheelers are not on the road for leisure. They are fulfilling their job requirements in traveling long distances, transporting products or materials, and all within a specific time frame. Working full-time is one thing and working full-time on the road is another. Since 18-wheeler drivers are busy performing a duty, it is a good idea to pay close attention to a few things:
- Tired/Sleepy Drivers: Any person behind the wheel who sees day turn into night or night turn into day is a very dedicated person and is probably also suffering from fatigue. The constant task of driving can also cause someone’s eyelids to get heavy and even fall asleep at the wheel.
- Bigger Blind Spots: Drivers of big trucks do not have the advantages that most drivers have – the ability to see out their windows. 18-wheelers are long and some do not have mirrors that reflect the length of the truck on the opposite lane. If the driver of an 18-wheeler decides to change lanes while someone is on the opposite lane, the driver probably failed to notice them.
- Tunnel vision: Staring at the road for a long period of time can lead someone to view in tunnel vision. The focus on the road becomes more and more narrow and the peripheral vision of the driver begins to decrease. This can lead to a number of types of accidents.
- Tailgating: This reduces the reaction time that all drivers need when attempting to avoid an accident or injury. Also, the moment behind an 18-wheeler is so great that it becomes difficult to stop the vehicle suddenly.
Reckless Driving: All drivers must pay attention to the conditions of the road as well as traffic signs and laws. If at any point an occupant of either vehicle decides to run the law in his or her own way, he or she runs the risk of causing an accident.