Commercial fleets such as delivery trucks present a hazard to the road, not only because of their size and the loads they carry but also because other drivers have to observe extra caution when using the road. An 18-wheeler’s brakes don’t perform the same way as a sedan’s or a van’s, so suddenly stopping your vehicle when such a truck is right behind you may be a recipe for a catastrophic disaster.
Forgetting to signal and other seemingly minor driving mistakes when around giant trucks can also lead to potentially fatal accidents. That said, it’s highly crucial to be more careful than usual and to know the risks you may face when you share the road with them.
Accidents Caused by Commercial Trucks
All truck drivers have undergone a meticulous screening process before getting hired. They are expected to be highly skilled and disciplined drivers. However, some circumstances and shortcomings from their employers, such as the following, can cause accidents:
- Inadequate training on driving techniques, defensive driving, and safety
- Compensation systems that compel drivers to increase their speed and accumulate more hours on the road
- Extreme schedules that force drivers to overspeed despite the safety risks it entails
When truck drivers neglect safe driving just to meet their employers’ expectations, it will definitely heighten the risk of an accident. However, considering the reasons for the incidents they cause, we can point out the companies that give orders to the truck drivers as the ones with the ultimate responsibility for accidents.
Truck Accidents Caused by Passenger Vehicles
In most cases, surprisingly, truck accidents are actually the fault of the other motorist, and not the truck driver.
That’s because there are multiple blind spots in a truck, which are some of the areas behind and beside it that the side and rear-view mirrors do not reflect. If a smaller vehicle drives on these spots, the truck may bump into them unknowingly.
It’s important to know how to drive safely alongside or behind trucks. Give them lots of room first and foremost, especially if they are unloaded. Unloaded trucks can create a “sail” effect when blown over by the wind, causing an uncontrollable drifting motion that will surely crush any smaller vehicle.
Remember not to drive on the blind spots, and to never abruptly change lanes when you’re in front of them. Be extra cautious when merging into traffic where they are present, and always slow down when they are turning. Never let yourself get in between two trucks as well.
Determining Liability in an Accident
When you get into a truck accident that is clearly the truck driver’s fault, you must file a complaint with the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer. The lawyer will help you in investigating the accident so that the person liable should be demanded compensation.
Note that investigations may not always result in the truck driver being the only one liable. Other potentially responsible parties are the trucking company, the cargo loader, and the truck owner.
The truck driver is at fault alone if she/he broke traffic rules, consumed alcohol or drugs, or other circumstances within their controls. But if the misconduct of the driver is caused by their employer’s unrealistic expectations, the trucking company will be held liable as well.
If the accident is caused by a faulty truck, its owner will be liable if they’re a separate entity from the company. But if unsecured cargo caused the accident, the cargo loader will be accountable, and in some cases, the truck’s manufacturer because the investigation may find that the vehicle’s parts are inadequate for supporting heavy loads.
It can be difficult to obtain evidence of the faults of the truck driver or the parties involved with them, so aside from your attentiveness, legal assistance is highly essential.