Common Signs of Truck Driver Negligence
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that regulates the trucking industry, more than 100,000 large truck crashes occur on the nation’s roads and highways each year, including several thousand fatal crashes. Although motorists can cause a treacherous truck accident, truck driver negligence leads to many preventable truck crashes.
The law holds truck drivers to higher standards when they are behind the wheel. Operating a semi or other type of heavy truck requires a commercial drivers’ license (CDL). Yet, commercial truck drivers make many of the same mistakes while driving as other drivers. However, the consequences of a truck accident are often much more severe than a crash between two passenger vehicles.
The high weight and large size of a truck create a massive force during the impact of a crash, leading to more dangerous accidents that result in more severe and fatal injuries. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident that occurred because of a reckless truck driver, the skilled truck accident attorneys at Charbonnet Law Firm can review your case and help you determine the best path forward to recover compensation for damages. Until you can meet with a lawyer, we provide more information about some common signs of truck driver negligence below.
Speeding or Reckless Driving
Many trucks have governors that prevent them from going over a certain speed, especially on highways and interstates. Yet, speeding includes more than going over the posted speed limit. Truck drivers have demanding schedules that motivate them to get to and from their pickup and drop-off locations quickly. Always feeling rushed means that some truckers go too fast for traffic, road, or weather conditions.
Driving a big rig takes skill and manual dexterity, and speeding makes it more difficult for a truck driver to control their truck. Truckers who speed in heavy traffic or during a storm have less time to react to other vehicles, especially if they suddenly stop or slow down. Speed increases the required stopping distance and can lead to a dangerous rear-end collision.
Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions in a large truck is a form of reckless driving, but not the only reckless driving behavior that some truckers engage in. Examples of forms of reckless driving in a truck include random lane changes, ignoring road signs and signals, and other traffic violations.
When you think of distracted driving, it’s likely cell phone use pops into your head. Cell phones are indeed a dangerous distraction that can lead to a severe truck accident, but cell phones are far less likely to cause a truck accident than other distractions. Truckers are the first group of drivers banned from handheld use of electronic devices while driving. They must use a headset while driving, or they are breaking federal law.
Distracted driving includes any activity that takes a trucker’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or their mind away from driving. Other common driving distractions that some truckers succumb to include:
- Drinking or eating while driving
- Reaching for something on the floor
- Adjusting the heat or A/C
- Adjusting the radio or CB
- Focusing on an event outside the vehicle
Distracted truck drivers don’t see other vehicles and miss important signs and signals, greatly increasing the chance of a truck accident.
Long weeks, long days, and dealing with other drivers lead some truck drivers to drive aggressively. Truckers with road rage or aggressive truck drivers put others who share the road at risk for dangerous crashes. Signs of aggressive driving include failing to yield to other vehicles, following other vehicles too closely, blocking lanes, and blowing the horn to show their frustration and anger.
Hours of Service (HOS) Violations
The FMCSA has implemented strict regulations about how many hours per day and week a truck driver can operate. These Hours of Service (HOS) regulations aim to prevent drowsy and fatigued driving, leading to accidents. There was a time when truckers could “run hot” and fake their logbooks to go over their hours. In recent years, trucking companies had to install electronic logbooks in trucks, making it difficult to violate HOS rules.
Yet, negligent trucking companies and negligent drivers sometimes try to circumvent the system; and some trucking companies and owner/operators have not installed electronic logs. You have no way of knowing if a truck driver who causes an accident has broken HOS regulations, but if a truck driver caused an accident, your attorney can investigate the accident and request the driver’s logbooks to verify HOS compliance.
Poor Driving History
Any truck driver can have a bad day and cause an accident or be the victim of another motorist’s careless driving. Yet, truckers who repeatedly find themselves involved in truck accidents are likely to engage in negligent driving behaviors regularly. Like HOS violations, you cannot know a trucker’s driving history immediately. Your truck accident attorney can investigate and get a driving history to determine if the truck driver who caused your accident has been involved in previous crashes. This is a strong indicator of negligence for the trucking company too. They have a legal obligation to employ safe drivers and reprimand those who cause damage.
Positive Drug or Alcohol Test
Commercial truck drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol screenings and must undergo a drug and alcohol test after an accident occurs. You would think that professional drivers understand the dangers of driving under the influence and never think about using drugs or alcohol before or while operating their trucks. This is true in many cases, but unfortunately, truckers face addiction the same as anyone else. Truck drivers are especially likely to use amphetamines, or ‘uppers,’ to help them cope with demanding schedules.
Positive test results are a sure sign of driver negligence. Driving under the influence is not only negligent and illegal; it can lead to dangerous truck accidents with life-threatening injuries. Truckers who engage in this dangerous behavior are impaired and cannot control their trucks easily, putting everyone who shares the road at risk for accident and injury. You might notice signs of drug or alcohol use after a crash, but your lawyer can usually get a copy of any test results to find out for certain if the trucker who hit you was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Hurt in a Trucking Accident? Turn to Charbonnet Law Firm
Negligent truck drivers who cause accidents often walk away unscathed or with minor injuries because they have the protection of their truck. Those in cars, SUVs, and other passenger vehicles take the brunt of the impact when an accident occurs. Those involved are lucky to survive an accident and often need to be hospitalized because of their severe injuries.
The aftermath of a truck accident includes physical and emotional pain and financial stress from medical bills and missing work. The trucking company’s insurance carrier is not on your side and will go the extra mile to avoid paying you a dime. Let the skilled truck accident attorneys at Charbonnet Law Firm help. Contact us today online or call us at (504) 294-5094 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.