With a bunch of hometown trucking companies and several malls and shopping centers that constantly take deliveries, semi-trucks roll into and through Morgantown all the time—along Interstates 79 and 68, down Mileground Road and Beechurst Avenue, and other big roads. In our neighborhoods, box trucks deliver items we ordered online. They deliver the goods we need.
However, despite the necessity of these vehicles on U.S. roadways, they pose hazards to other roadway users; accidents involving large trucks are some of the most threatening to other passengers and motorists. Often they occur because a trucker didn’t pay attention to the traffic around him or her, and when that happens, call the Morgantown truck accident lawyers at Wagoner Desai.
We operate a different kind of law firm, one that puts people first and provides personalized service to our clients. We know the danger that can strike when a commercial trucker drives negligently in Morgantown and we are passionate about helping our clients recover from their accidents. Call us today.
What Makes Trucks Dangerous?
Commercial trucks are a common sight where we live in Morgantown, and have long been a topic of civic discussion. In fact, the city once attempted to ban heavy trucks from traveling through the downtown area. A collective of trucking companies whose routes regularly pass through the area filed a lawsuit, stating that the city ban was unenforceable as the routes used are state highways that allow commercial truck traffic. After a lower court found in favor of the plaintiffs, the city appealed the matter to the state Supreme Court, who also ruled that they did not have the jurisdiction to ban traffic on state highways.
About 15.5 million commercial trucks operate in the U.S., with about 2 million of these being tractor-trailers. The economy relies on commercial trucks to deliver approximately 70 percent of the retail goods and products sold in stores and restaurants across the country.
There are several hazards involved in the operation of these commercial trucks, mostly related to the size of the vehicles.
Here are a few large truck features that often result in or exacerbate accidents:
- Trucks weigh approximately 20-30 times as much as most passenger vehicles. This makes the occupants of other vehicles extremely vulnerable to injury or death if an accident occurs.
- Trucks have higher ground clearance, increasing the risk of something known as an underride, which occurs when the smaller passenger vehicle slides beneath the truck in an accident.
- While all vehicles have an area in the rear and to the sides in which the driver cannot see obstacles by using either the rear or side-view mirrors, the blind spots in commercial trucks are particularly significant along all four sides of the vehicle, increasing the risk of a truck driver being unaware of a vehicle in his or her blind spot and causing a collision.
- Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent more distance to come to a safe stop after the driver sees a hazard and responds to it by depressing the brakes. This distance is even larger on icy or wet roadways or if the truck’s brakes are poorly maintained.
- Because of their length, trucks make wide turns. This is hazardous to other vehicles who may become trapped between the turning truck and the curb.
- Trucks, at least for now, are operated by very human drivers. As with any type of motor vehicle accident, human error causes the vast majority of truck accidents.
West Virginia Trucking Fatalities
What Are The Causes of Truck Accidents?
As mentioned, the largest percentage of truck accidents are the result of human error.
Some examples of human errors that can result in an accident involving a commercial truck include:
- Fatigue: Truck drivers work long hours, often driving for long periods of time across uneventful terrain. Despite federal hours of service regulations that prohibit a driver from being on-duty for more than 11 hours at a time, many drivers still drive when fatigued. In fact, in a study of large truck crashes, it was discovered that 13 percent of truck drivers were fatigued at the time when the crash occurred. In addition to long hours, truck drivers commonly choose to drive during the late-night hours, when the body is biologically wired for sleep.
- Distractions: Commercial truck drivers are not immune to the distractions posed to other drivers, including texting and other cell phone use, eating or drinking, adjusting GPS or vehicle controls, visiting with passengers, and external distractions including previous accident scenes, construction zones, other vehicles, and billboards.
- Impairment: Federal regulations require truck drivers to be routinely tested for drugs and alcohol in their systems. However, this doesn’t stop some drivers from indulging, even if they’re working. Additionally, many over-the-counter medications that drivers take for issues such as insomnia or allergies can cause drowsiness or other signs of impairment.
- Speeding: Truck drivers work on tight deadlines that tempt them to drive faster than the posted speed or too fast for the conditions of the road. Speed can increase the distance needed for the truck to come to a safe stop and can also increase the severity of the impact in an accident. A speeding truck also makes it harder for other drivers to judge a safe gap in which to pull into a travel lane.
- Tailgating: Being followed too closely by a truck is hazardous. As already described, trucks need an additional amount of space to stop if the vehicle in front of them brakes suddenly. Trucks often make wide turns and also tend to take time to gain speed after stopping for a stop sign or traffic light. A driver who is following too closely is not only in the truck driver’s rear blind spot but also may miss signs of the driver’s intentions and rear-end the truck.
- Getting lost: It is not unusual for a truck driver to find himself or herself in an unfamiliar city. Getting lost can result in unsafe driving practices such as carelessly attempting to cross lanes to avoid missing an exit, making a careless turn after missing an exit, or even entering a freeway ramp or a one-way road while driving the wrong direction.
Are Wagoner Desai, PLLC Here to Help?
Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries due to the massive size of the vehicle when compared to other vehicles on the roadway. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident in Morgantown, there is a legal process that you can use to recover damages related to your injuries.
This type of accident is often complex, however, typically requiring extensive knowledge of the industry and the regulations that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow, as well as an understanding of the medical conditions and complications that those who were in truck accidents may face, both now and in the future.
The experienced Morgantown personal accident attorneys at Wagoner Desai, PLLC are ready to talk to you about your case and the legal options that are available to you. Contact us now for a free case evaluation. You can call us at (304) 470-2056 or write to us through our contact page.
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