ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY TRUCK DRIVER ERRORS
Many truck drivers are skilled professionals, but some unfortunately disregard traffic safety rules and drive irresponsibly. Even a well-trained driver who has a brief lapse in attention may cause a crash. Oklahoma had more than 100 fatal accidents involving large trucks in 2013 and driver errors contributed to many of them. When a truck crash occurs on an Oklahoma highway, the driver or trucking company may be negligent in the eyes of the law. But it may take an investigation by a knowledgeable Oklahoma truck accident attorney to determine the cause.
If you have been harmed in an accident caused by a truck driver, have an Oklahoma truck accident attorney review the facts of the accident and explain your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation if a trucker caused your accident. The attorneys at Burch, George & Germany offer an initial review at no cost.
Types of Driver Errors that Contribute to Truck Crashes
Large trucks were involved in 13 percent of fatal accidents in Oklahoma in a recent year—ranking Oklahoma among the five states with the highest percentage of truck accidents. Certain types of truck driver errors contribute to many accidents involving large trucks.
- Inattention — A driver who has his eyes off the road or is not alert to the surrounding traffic may cause a serious accident in the time it takes to reach for a coffee cup. Federal rules prohibit commercial truck drivers from texting or sending email while driving or using a hand held cell phone to make a call. Truck drivers dialing a hand held cell are more prone to drift out of their lane or cause an accident or near accident, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Speeding—Tractor trailers and semis have longer stopping distances than other vehicles. Speeding further reduces the amount of time a driver has to react to changing traffic conditions and avoid an accident. Still, many truck drivers routinely drive above the posted speed limit. Nearly one out of five truck drivers involved in a fatal accident had at least one previous speeding conviction.
- Driving While Fatigued—Driver fatigue contributes to many truck accidents. An exhausted truck driver who is zoned out may fail to see stopped traffic or a red light. Commercial truck drivers are restricted in the number of hours per day and per week that they may be behind the wheel. These limits, known as hours-of-service requirements, help prevent truck accidents caused by driver exhaustion. The rules set forth on-duty hours and rest periods for drivers. Truckers may feel pressure to falsify their logs and keep driving beyond the point of fatigue to meet an unreasonable delivery deadline. Some drivers disregard hours-of-service limits and drive when they are dangerously fatigued, leading to an accident.
- Driving Too Fast for Conditions—Because of their size and weight, large trucks take much longer to stop when travelling at higher speeds. An automobile traveling 65 miles per hour requires about 165 feet to stop. By comparison, a tractor trailer traveling the same speed needs 420 feet to stop—more than twice the distance.
A truck driver may be driving within the speed limit, but still driving too fast for traffic conditions and be unable to brake in time if the traffic in front of him stops unexpectedly. Many rear end collisions involve truckers driving too fast for conditions.
- Driving Under the Influence. Federal regulations require random testing to identify commercial drivers who abuse drugs or alcohol. Positive alcohol tests put drivers out of service if they are found with any alcohol in their system, and those with a blood alcohol level of .04 or above are disqualified from driving with a commercial driver’s license. Commercial truck drivers who fail a test, refuse a test, or violate the drug testing regulations are supposed to complete a return-to-duty process including education, treatment, and follow-up testing before driving again.
More prevalent is the over use of over-the-counter medicines for illnesses or allergies. Some medications may cause drowsiness or make it difficult for a driver to stay focused on driving. Trucking companies are supposed to administer drug and alcohol tests to applicants and maintain an ongoing workplace testing program for alcohol and controlled substances. Some truck companies fail to administer required drug and alcohol test, allowing a problem driver to cause a serious injury accident. That may make the trucking company liable after a truck accident as well as the driver.
Identifying the Contributing Factors in an Oklahoma Truck Accident
As knowledgeable truck accident attorneys, we work to identify all the contributing factors in a truck accident and all the responsible parties. Accidents involving large trucks often involve multiple insurance companies representing the truck driver, trucking company, and cargo shipper. The insurance companies are likely to have lawyers representing them. You should have an experienced attorney advocating for your interests too.