Trucking accidents are unspeakably dangerous, thanks in part to the physics involved in collisions. Most big rigs weigh well over five tons. When such a vehicle hits a barrier or other car, the deceleration leads to enormous forces concentrated across relatively small surface areas.

 

As this physics website explains: “When you are sitting in a moving vehicle you and the vehicle are subject to Newton’s Laws of motion. Your vehicle’s speed and direction and your body’s speed and direction cannot change without external forces. The external force on the vehicle comes from another vehicle which is either moving or stationary, a stationary object, or gravity. The external forces can cause damage to the vehicle and injury to your body. The amount of damage or injury is determined by the magnitude of the force and by the part of the vehicle or the body the force is applied to.”

 

Truck drivers face exceedingly demanding schedules, and they strive to meet strict delivery times to earn money to support themselves and their families. These pressures often cause drivers to push themselves too far: to take risks on the road, drive without sleeping enough or taking breaks, and operate their vehicles in uncertain weather.

 

Big rigs also haul enormous payloads over long distances. Long hours of high-speed highway driving can exact tolls on drivers and their payloads. Adequate preparation is essential.

 

Hours of Service

Fatigued driving causes hazards, whether you’re riding a bike or piloting a behemoth 18 wheel rig. Fatigued driving is dangerous for several reasons:

  • Slower reaction time
  • Drifting between lanes without noticing
  • Reduced situational awareness
  • Chronic fatigue caused by consecutive long shifts without adequate rest

 

Frustratingly, studies suggest that current regulations for preventing truck driver fatigue may not prevent trucking accidents. Also, many companies expect truckers to drive 11 hours per day. Even when official policies are more relaxed, delivery demands cause drivers to adopt inconsistent sleep schedules and get fatigued and stressed while behind the wheel.

 

Cargo Regulations

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed heavier trucks are less susceptible to jackknifing but more at risk of rollovers. Longer trucks have the opposite profile. Thanks to the physics of longer vehicles, jackknifing is more of a risk than a rollover.

In terms of type and amount of cargo, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes several requirements covering:

  • Proper use of securement devices, such as tie-downs, anchor points and front-end structures
  • Placement of cargo within the trailer
  • Load limits for volume, weight, and required restraints
  • Commodity-specific requirements for loads such as logs, lumber, metal coils, paper rolls, and concrete pipes

 

Liability in Trucking Accidents

Despite extensive guidelines for safe truck driving practices, oversights happen. Unfortunate, it often takes a tragedy (or series of tragedies) to reveal these mistakes and create the conditions to improve the system.

If you got hurt in a trucking accident, contact our experienced team to review your case to help you obtain fair and complete compensation.