What Are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Across America, approximately 415,000 police-reported large truck crashes occurred in 2015 (the most recent date for which data is available) – 83,000 of which involved injury and 3,598 of which were fatal. With such high numbers, it is reasonable to research the most common causes of truck accidents. Understanding these causes can help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In the event that you or somebody you love was injured in an accident involving a negligent truck driver in Georgia, you may wish to consult an Atlanta truck accident attorney to learn your legal rights.
In spite of special training, commercial driver’s licenses, and duties of care to other drivers on the road, truck drivers are often guilty of negligence. Truck drivers have caused fatal accidents in Georgia from driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, falling asleep behind the wheel, speeding, texting and driving, eating/drinking while driving, and other forms of recklessness. Driver error is responsible for a large percentage of all truck accidents around the country.
Drivers who ignore their federal hours of service (HOS) regulations are more likely to engage in tired or drowsy driving. The HOS rules are in place to reduce the number of tired truck drivers on the roads. This is a common problem for truckers, who often have to sleep at unusual times, drive overnight, drive long hours alone, and who may suffer health problems such as sleep apnea. Ignoring HOS rules and causing a drowsy-driving accident exposes the driver to the risk of a personal injury claim.
Too often, truck drivers turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the pressures of their jobs or stay awake during long-haul drives. Truck drivers are legally too intoxicated to drive with blood alcohol concentration levels of 0.04%, not the standard 0.08% for other drivers in Georgia. Blood alcohol tests after an accident can help prove a driver’s intoxication in these scenarios. Texting and driving is also an illegal form of negligence that truck drivers might engage in while on Georgia’s highways.
Trucking Company Negligence
Truck accidents aren’t always the drivers’ fault. In many cases, it is negligence on the part of the trucking company or fleet manager that causes fatal and injurious accidents. Trucking companies may be liable for the actions of their employees, as well as for their own acts of negligence. Common company-related causes of accidents include:
- Disobeying loading requirements. There are maximum weight limits for loads depending on the size of the truck. There are also requirements in terms of how to load different materials and safety rules for transporting hazardous goods. Overloading a truck can lead to trucks overturning or loads falling out into the road.
- Failing to control the quality of fleets. Fleet owners and managers must maintain their trucks at all times. This includes proper vehicle maintenance, safety inspections, and daily checks. Trucks must have proper braking, steering, and other systems. Improper maintenance, resulting in an accident, is a form of compensable negligence.
- Improper hiring, training, or retention practices. It is a trucking company or fleet manager’s duty to hire workers and drivers who are qualified and able to do the job safely. Training and retention are also the company’s responsibility. Negligence in these areas, such as knowingly hiring a driver with a recent history of DUI, can lead to company liability in the event of a related accident.
There are many potential ways a trucking company could negligently cause an accident. In these scenarios, the victim(s) can sue the company instead of the individual driver. In other cases, a third party such as a negligent truck part manufacturer may be liable for the accident. When in doubt about your case, speak to an attorney. An experienced Atlanta accident lawyer can investigate your case and help you identify the probable cause of the crash and most likely defendant(s).