Semi-trucks (a.k.a. tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, semi-trailers) and other large commercial vehicles operate throughout our nation’s interstates, highways and city streets. While motor vehicle accidents happen everyday, motor vehicle crashes involving large semi-trucks are particularly dangerous.
The most recent statistics on semi-truck crashes are staggering. According to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), there were more than 76,000 crashes involving semi-trucks or large commercial vehicles in 2011 alone. Of these crashes, 4,018 people were killed and more than 112,000 people were physically injured. The states with the highest rates of fatal semi-truck crashes include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The consequences of a large 18-wheeler hitting a smaller vehicle are catastrophic, but preventable. According to the USDOT, human error is the most common cause of a crash involving a semi-truck: “Drivers of large trucks and other vehicles involved in truck crashes are ten times more likely to be cause of the crash than other factors, such as weather, road conditions, and vehicle performance.” Some of the most common causes or trucking accidents and reasons why truck drivers cause crashes include:
- Speeding or driving too fast for the conditions;
- Alcohol and drug use / intoxication;
- Aggressive driving and illegal maneuvers;
- Changing lanes without ensuring proper clearance;
- Drivers falling asleep;
- Failing to keep a careful lookout for motorists and pedestrians;
- Inattention and distraction;
- Using cell phones or computers while driving;
- Crossing the center yellow lines;
- Tailgating or following other vehicles too closely, so that that semi-truck is not able to brake in time to avoid a rear-end collision;
- Failing to stop at a stop sign or flashing light; and
- Failing to yield the right-of-way belonging to another vehicle.
Unfortunately, in pushing profits over safety, trucking and shipping companies are not providing operators of semi-trucks and commercial vehicles proper training. Large tractor trailers can be difficult to operate due to their size, and operating a semi-truck is very different than operating a normal car. For instance, it takes longer to stop and slow down a semi-truck, and operators of semi-trucks must be more alert and attentive of motorists and pedestrians in the vicinity of a tractor-trailer. In addition, the way in which the truck operators are paid, which is usually on a per-mile basis, gives them incentive to overdrive or drive while fatigued.
Due to these reasons, a special agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), oversees and regulates the operation of semi-trucks and large commercial motor vehicles. The regulations promulgated by the FMCSA in this area include hours of service limitations, minimum insurance requirements, inspection requirements, etc., and are complicated. The big insurance companies that defend semi-truck operators know these regulations very well. People injured in semi-truck crashes also need help from legal specialists in semi-truck crashes.
Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a family member has been injured in a crash, collision or accident involving a semi-truck, bus or large commercial truck, you need immediate legal representation from experience Kansas City truck accident attorneys. There should be no mistake about this point. The trucking companies and their agents will be quickly investigating and defending against any responsibility. Those injured or killed due to the negligence or fault of a large semi-truck or commercial vehicle must have experienced attorneys and experts fighting for their rights. Contact Bautista LeRoy today. Consultations are free. Our firm covers all litigation costs, and you and your family will never get any bill from us. We get paid only when we win your case.