Trucking Accidents: Why do they Happen and Who is Responsible?

Noble McIntyre on January 13, 2015

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We’ve talked a lot about the dangers associated with all kinds of traffic accidents—everything from Driving Under the Influence (DUI), distracted driving, teens driving and winter driving to trucking.

There are lots of Oklahoma truckers on the roads, thanks in part to the oil field industry. Although there are plenty of oil field injuries that can happen on the job, one of the biggest accident threats is truck driving.

Of course, you don’t have to be a trucker to be injured in an Oklahoma trucking accident. In one especially tragic story, a man lost his wife, mother-in-law and two young sons, ages three years old and 15 months. The family was traveling on Interstate 80 in Ohio when a three-axle Intercontinental 9400 semitrailer hit their minivan at high speed and crushed it. It slammed into a flat-bed truck up ahead and created a huge fire. The two women and two toddlers were killed instantly, along with the driver of the truck. Sadly, this story is not unusual. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has said that this type of accident happens an average of 11 times per day on U.S. highways, and over 100,000 people are injured in truck crashes every year. Worse, because the industries that involve heavy shipping are growing so rapidly, these numbers are steadily increasing.

What causes trucking accidents?

There are a lot of causes for trucking accidents and injuries. One is that the continually strengthening economy means that there’s a lot of pressure on companies, including those in the oil and energy industry, to have goods delivered quickly. That means that drivers are driving long hours and are tired, the companies might not screen the drivers as well as they should, and the government has been slow to regulate new safety technology. Of course, it’s not all the companies’ and the truck drivers’ faults—drivers of passenger vehicles can be to blame, too. Often, we see an 18-wheeler or other large vehicle and assume that it’s slow-moving, so we will attempt to change lanes or get out of the way… and sometimes we’re not making those moves safely.

Truck-related fatalities equal thousands of deaths each year, but because we hear about them one at a time and they are scattered all over the country, we don’t realize the enormity of the problem. In one highly publicized case, a vehicle carrying actor Tracy Morgan and a friend was hit from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on a New Jersey highway. Morgan was severely injured and his friend was killed. It shouldn’t take a major accident involving a celebrity for us to wake up to the very real problem of truck accidents on our nation’s highways.

Trucking Accidents Caused by Passenger Vehicle Drivers

Trucking accidents are everyone’s problem. As a driver or passenger, you are at risk every time you get on the road. Here are some common causes of accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles:

  • Driving behind or next to a commercial truck; the driver has limited or zero visibility in these areas.
  • Abrupt lane-changes in front of a truck.
  • Turning to the right of a truck that is making a right-hand turn.
  • Making a left turn in front of a truck at an intersection and misjudging the speed of the approaching truck.
  • Improper merges into traffic, which would require a truck to maneuver or brake quickly.
  • Failing to slow down or speed up as necessary if a truck is changing lanes or merging.
  • Driving in between large trucks.
  • Leaving a disabled vehicle partially on the highway, rather than getting it completely off to the shoulder.
  • Passing with insufficient headway.
  • Allowing the vehicle to be blown out of position by air turbulence or crosswind after passing a truck.

Trucking Accidents Caused by Commercial Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Although most drivers are well-screened and well-trained drivers, everyone makes mistakes and truckers are no different. Sometimes, drivers are not trained properly with respect to driving technique or safety precautions. As well, the expectations of the trucking companies can be unrealistic, which means that drivers feel pressured to hurry even if it means driving less safely. Finally, trucking companies often compensate drivers better for faster vehicle speeds and more hours of consecutive driving than are safe.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call the experienced Oklahoma trucking accident lawyers today. We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve. Be safe out there!

Noble McIntyre

Noble McIntyre is the senior partner and owner of McIntyre Law who focuses primarily on drug litigation and catastrophic injury cases. He is currently representing clients injured by the drugs Paxil, Levaquin and testosterone therapy drugs and by clients affected by oil field injuries. His goal has and continues to be to work diligently on behalf of his clients to achieve the highest and best result for his clients’ injuries while maintaining professionalism and abiding by all ethical standards of his profession. Read more about Noble McIntyre.

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