Common 18-Wheeler Accident Causes

Automobile accidents can cause problems that range from irritating to life-changing. 18-wheeler accidents, on the other hand, have a higher capacity to cause catastrophic injuries or end a person’s life. These behemoths on the highways can cause severe damage to life and property due to their large size and mass. Truck drivers need more distance to come to a complete stop when braking, especially when hauling a full load. These massive machines can haul up to 80,000 pounds; the trailer is typically 53 feet long. A fully loaded 18-wheeler is anywhere from 20 to 30 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle, depending on the make and model of the car or truck. Considering all of these factors together, there are several reasons a truck driver may make a deadly error that leads to an 18-wheeler wreck, so here are a few common causes.

Driver Fatigue

Truckers are human and need rest just like anyone else. Sadly, many drivers do not get the sleep they need to perform their jobs safely. Fatigue is typically associated with physical or mental overexertion, leading to several problems. When you exert yourself mentally or physically for extended periods, you can strain your mind, affecting your decision-making and reaction times. Exhaustion and fatigue can cause hallucinations, lowered hand-to-eye coordination, and blurry vision. Considering how well drivers can concentrate and react has a significant impact on truckers’ ability to operate their 18-wheelers safely, it’s easy to see why they need to keep sleep records. There is a reason why the state and federal governments regulate the amount of required off-duty time and the consecutive driving hours of truckers. An experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney can help determine if a driver was operating within the confines of these regulations. 

Poor Maintenance

Trucking companies have to provide maintenance for their tractor-trailers. Automobiles are complex machines requiring effort to keep in good working condition. That said, someone can drop the ball when it comes to keeping these giant machines running safely. 18-wheelers require longer distances to stop safely, and if everything is not in proper working order, you can see how problems may arise. There is a reason that the state has regulations regarding the yearly inspection of vehicles on the road. However, a lot can change in a year, so if a problem arises, it’s up to whoever is in charge of ensuring these massive trucks are road-worthy. The problems typically come at the expense of the victims of 18-wheeler accidents and not the drivers. In fatal accidents involving an 18-wheeler, truck drivers only comprise four percent of the deaths. The other 96% is made up of passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Inexperienced Drivers

While this section is self-explanatory, one thing to consider is that not every driver works for a big trucking company. Several big rig operators are independent contractors. As the demand for transport rises, the need for drivers will, as well. Every new driver has to obtain a license to drive a semi. With that license comes the responsibility to safely operate the massive truck. Everyone has to start somewhere when choosing a profession, but inexperience does not remove someone’s liability for their actions. Certain routes may not be an acceptable starting point for a new driver, and the company responsible for the logistics may not take that inexperience into account when laying out plans for deliveries. Each 18-wheeler accident will come with its own set of circumstances, and you may end up having to put up a fight to get the proper compensation for your injuries or losses. As such, it may be in your best interest to talk to a skilled personal injury attorney with a proven track record for handling these types of cases.

Drunk/Impaired Driving

It may not come as a surprise that this category is on the list, but if you think about it, truck drivers who drink and drive are actually drinking on the job. Cross-country drivers spend a lot of time in the cab of their 18-wheeler, including downtime where they may imbibe. Alcohol inhibits reaction times, and when driving a huge machine, that’s a recipe for disaster. The simple fact of the matter is that when someone drinks and drives, it is a personal choice to disobey the law. Even if the drinking occurred during their downtime, they need to give enough time for the alcohol to quit affecting their bodies. These types of 18-wheeler accidents can be completely avoided with proper planning. The company that hired the driver may still be held accountable for the actions of their employee, even if that person was drunk while operating their semi-truck. The Galbreath Law Firm can help if you find yourself in a situation like this. 

Distracted Driving

In today’s driving climate, the total cases of distracted driving accidents are quickly overtaking the number of drunk driving wrecks. With the widespread usage of cell phones and navigation devices, it’s not a surprise that this phenomenon is happening. However, several other things can serve as a distraction to someone operating an 18-wheeler. Delivery services constantly run on a tight deadline, so it stands to reason that drivers may try to save some time. Eating, drinking, smoking, and doing other things while driving can serve as enough of a distraction to cause a terrible 18-wheeler accident. On an average day, accidents caused by distracted driving injure about 700 people. While this number includes accidents between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks when a big rig is involved, the capacity for devastation and catastrophic injuries increases. Once again, trucking companies are responsible for the actions of their employees. However, even if the accident seems like an open-and-shut case, you can still have a fight on your hands. Contacting an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney would be a step in the right direction, and The Galbreath Law Firm will fight hard on your behalf.