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Every day, we share the road with massive 18-wheelers, the backbone of our economy, transporting goods across the country. However, these behemoths of the highway also present a significant danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, large trucks were involved in over 4,100 fatal crashes and tens of thousands more injury accidents. While factors like driver error and road conditions often take center stage in discussions about truck accidents, a lesser-known but equally significant contributor is the role trucking company policies can play in creating situations that increase the risk of accidents.

Trucking Company Truck AccidentThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the government agency tasked with regulating the trucking industry. The FMCSA establishes and enforces a comprehensive set of safety regulations designed to ensure the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles, including semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers. These regulations cover a wide range of areas critical to truck safety:

HOS rules limit the number of hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle in a given timeframe. These limitations are in place to prevent driver fatigue, a major cause of accidents. Fatigued driving, also known as drowsy driving, can impair a driver’s reaction time, decision-making ability, and overall performance behind the wheel.

Trucks are complex machines that require regular inspections, servicing, and maintenance to ensure they are in safe working order. The FMCSA sets standards for critical vehicle components like brakes, tires, lighting systems, and coupling devices. Regular upkeep of these systems is essential to prevent mechanical failures that could lead to accidents.

The way cargo is loaded and secured in a truck’s trailer is crucial for safe operation. Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can shift during transit, affecting the truck’s balance and stability, and potentially causing rollovers or loss of control. FMCSA regulations specify how cargo must be loaded, distributed, and secured within the trailer to minimize these risks.

 

These regulations, among others, form a safety net designed to protect truck drivers and other road users. However, adherence to these critical guidelines can sometimes take a backseat when trucking companies prioritize profits over safety.

The trucking industry is highly competitive, with companies often operating on tight schedules and slim margins. In this high-pressure environment, some trucking companies may implement policies that incentivize drivers to take risks, ultimately increasing the likelihood of accidents. Here are some examples of how company policies can contribute to unsafe practices:

In an effort to deliver cargo faster and maximize profits, companies might push drivers to exceed Hours of Service regulations. This pressure to work longer hours and skip mandatory rest breaks can lead to driver fatigue, a condition that significantly increases the risk of accidents. Studies have shown that fatigued drivers exhibit slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and decreased alertness, similar to drivers under the influence of alcohol.

Some companies may offer bonuses or other incentives for drivers who complete deliveries ahead of schedule. While this might seem like a way to boost efficiency, it can encourage drivers to speed or take other risks on the road to meet these targets. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to control their vehicle and increases the severity of accidents when they occur.

Properly training drivers takes time and resources. Some companies may cut corners on training to get drivers on the road faster. This can result in drivers who are ill-prepared to handle the challenges of operating a large truck, especially in adverse conditions like bad weather or heavy traffic.

Proper truck maintenance is costly but essential. Some companies may neglect regular inspections or postpone necessary repairs to save money. This can lead to critical safety issues like worn-out brakes, bald tires, or faulty steering systems, all of which increase the risk of accidents. A poorly maintained truck is a hazard not just to its driver but to everyone on the road.

 

Behind every statistic about truck accidents, there are real people whose lives are forever changed. Truck accidents can be devastating events, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved.

Imagine the story of John, a hardworking family man, on his way home after a long shift at work. He’s driving responsibly, obeying traffic laws when suddenly, a semi-truck veers into his lane. The truck driver, pressured by his company to meet an unrealistic deadline, has been driving for hours without rest, and fatigue has set in. In the resulting collision, John suffers life-changing injuries. He faces a long road to recovery, mounting medical bills, and may be unable to return to work to support his family.

Or consider Sarah, a young mother, driving her children to school when a truck’s brakes fail at an intersection due to inadequate maintenance. The resulting crash leaves Sarah with permanent disabilities and her children traumatized.

These scenarios, while fictitious, mirror the very real consequences that can result when trucking company policies prioritize profits over people. The human toll of truck accidents extends far beyond the initial crash. Victims often face a lifetime of physical pain, emotional trauma, and financial hardship. Families can be torn apart, dreams shattered and lives irreversibly altered.

While we can’t control the actions of trucking companies or their drivers, we can take steps to stay safer while sharing the road with large trucks. Here are some tips:

Always allow ample space between your vehicle and the truck in front of you, especially in inclement weather. Trucks require significantly more distance to stop than passenger vehicles. Maintaining a safe following distance gives you more time to react if the truck slows down suddenly or if debris falls from the truck.

Large trucks have substantial blind spots on both sides, at the rear, and even in front of the vehicle. These areas, often called “No Zones,” are where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility. Avoid lingering in these blind spots and, when possible, make eye contact with the truck driver to ensure they see you.

Only pass a truck when it’s safe and legal to do so. Always pass on the left side, as a truck’s blind spot is much larger on the right. Make sure you can see the truck driver in their side mirror before moving in front, and don’t cut too closely in front of the truck when re-entering the lane.

Distracted driving is dangerous under any circumstances but especially so around large trucks. Put down your phone, avoid eating or other distractions while driving, and keep your focus on the road. Being alert can help you react quickly to changes in traffic or to a truck’s movements.

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, the path forward can seem overwhelming. You may be facing significant medical expenses, lost wages, and a lengthy recovery process. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can be your advocate and ally.

 

A skilled truck accident lawyer can:

 

Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine its cause. This may involve examining police reports, driver logs, electronic data from the truck’s “black box,” and the trucking company’s records. They’ll look for evidence of violations of FMCSA regulations, such as Hours of Service violations or inadequate maintenance.

Depending on the cause of the accident, multiple parties could be held liable. These might include the truck driver, the trucking company, the company that loaded the cargo, or even a parts manufacturer if a mechanical failure due to a defective part contributed to the crash. Your attorney will identify all potentially liable parties to ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve.

Truck accident injuries can be severe, often resulting in significant medical bills, lost wages, and long-term care needs. Your attorney will fight to recover compensation for all your accident-related expenses and losses, including pain and suffering and, if applicable, lost future earnings. They’ll handle negotiations with insurance companies and, if necessary, take your case to trial.

 

Truck accidents are a serious problem on our roads, and trucking company policies that prioritize profits over safety are a significant contributing factor. By understanding the regulations that govern the trucking industry and how violations of these rules can lead to accidents, we can better appreciate the importance of holding trucking companies accountable for unsafe practices.

If you’ve been involved in a trucking crash, remember that you have rights and that help is available. A seasoned truck accident lawyer can be your champion, fighting to ensure that you receive the compensation you need and deserve.

Ultimately, the goal must be to make our roads safer for everyone. This requires a commitment from trucking companies to prioritize safety, from policymakers to enforce regulations stringently, and from all of us to stay informed and practice safe driving habits when sharing the road with large trucks. Together, we can work towards a future where trucking company policies protect lives, not just profits.

 

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