As society evolves, it tends to become both safer and more efficient. Factories are automated, diseases are prevented, and people live longer.
But on the automotive front, very little has changed in the dangerous world of semi-trucks.
These massive vehicles are as imposing a presence as ever on California freeways, bulky and unpredictable. After decades on the roads, they still have a relatively high rate of collision. And those collisions continue to be among the deadliest and most devastating in our state.
Even worse: most semi-truck accidents are preventable, and they always have been. The overwhelming majority of them are caused by avoidable error on the part of the truck drivers and/or the companies that employ them.
Another thing that hasn’t gotten better with time, then, is the high rate of negligence endemic to commercial truck accidents.
Sadly, that’s because it is simply more profitable for these trucking companies to skirt the law and push their drivers to the limit. With that in mind, we want to alert our readers to the most common causes of semi-truck accidents in the hope that you’ll avoid becoming a victim.
Truck Driver Fatigue
By far the most common cause of semi-truck accidents in California, truck driver fatigue is a serious threat to your safety on the Interstate.
The problem is so bad that state and federal legislatures have attempted to crack down on how many hours a truck driver can stay behind the wheel.
These hours-of-service regulations require drivers to take breaks and get plenty of sleep before returning to work. But the rules are hard to enforce until after the accident has already occurred.
Unfortunately, trucking companies continue to value their bottom line over the safety of their drivers. As truckers rush to maximize efficiency and meet tough deadlines, they endanger the lives of everyone on the road.
Another bad behavior rears its head when truck drivers find themselves frustrated, angry, or running behind schedule. And as with drowsy driving, the grueling schedules from their employers are often to blame.
Examples of aggressive driving behavior by truck drivers include:
- Following too closely
- Making sudden lane changes
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Cutting off other cars
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Excessive use of horns, headlights, or other angry “warning” signals
Because truck drivers can’t always stop their vehicles as quickly as other drivers, aggressive behaviors can quickly lead to unintended consequences.
Speeding is a problem on every road and with every kind of vehicle. Commercial trucks are no exception, but they are even more dangerous. It’s simply a matter of size.
When these enormous vehicles exceed safe speeds, they become weapons, hurtling down the highway.
All too often, the drivers lose control of their vehicles. Because semi-trucks have a higher center of gravity, they are more susceptible to rollovers, which are catastrophic.
Commercial vehicles also have a tendency to jackknife at high speeds, meaning there is nothing the driver can do to regain control.
In today’s ever-connected world, truck drivers face the same temptations as anyone else who becomes impatient or bored while driving.
Common truck driver distractions include:
- Texting while driving a commercial vehicle
- Browsing the internet or email on a smartphone
- Adjusting the radio or an iPod-type device
- Eating while driving
- Reading maps
- Talking on the phone or a CB radio
- Using a GPS
A smartphone in the hand of any driver is a scary thought, but it’s especially terrifying when the vehicle in question is a potentially unstoppable behemoth.
Even though they work long, quiet, lonely hours — often at night — truck drivers must be vigilant in avoiding all distractions while driving. It is their legal duty to do so, and they can be held accountable for driving negligently.
Drugs and Alcohol
Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol play too large a role in truck driving culture. While many of our state’s fine truck drivers abstain from all intoxicants, there is nevertheless a disturbingly high rate of truck driver DUI / DWI in California.
When people hear about impaired truck drivers, they usually think about illegal drugs, narcotics, or excessive amounts of beer or alcohol.
Studies show, though, that many impaired truck driving accidents are actually caused by prescription medications or legal, over-the-counter drugs. The drivers may not realize just how strong an effect these medications have, especially if a doctor prescribed them.
But not all legal drugs are driver friendly. Truck drivers have a duty to avoid driving while under the influence of any medication that might make them drowsy or otherwise impair their judgment — even if the medicine is a common one, and even if they have a doctor’s permission to take it.
Questions? Talk to Bakersfield Truck Accident Attorneys Today
If you or someone you love has been injured in a California semi-truck collision, the Bakersfield truck accident attorneys in our firm want to help.
With offices in Bakersfield and Manhattan Beach, we are here to fight for the people who need us.
At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we offer an experienced and aggressive approach to truck accident legislation. The victims in these cases are often entitled to substantial financial justice, and we are here to maximize the value of your compensation.
To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, simply call, text, or use our online form today.