When most people think of crashes involving tractor trailers, they think of the injuries and deaths of the people in passenger vehicles that are hit by trucks. However, hundreds of truckers are killed every year in accidents. Among the 2.6 million truck drivers in the U.S, crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths.
Rollover accidents are especially dangerous for truck drivers. Although rollovers are involved in only 3.3 percent of all tractor trailer crashes, over half of the truck driver deaths are due to rollover accidents. That amounts to over 300 truck driver deaths and 3,000 injuries every year.
Many of those accidents are the fault of the driver. Truck drivers are often distracted or exhausted. Comedian Tracy Morgan suffered brain damage last summer when an exhausted truck driver crashed into his vehicle. Often, though, tractor trailer accidents are not the fault of the truck driver. The trucking industry is booming – truck tonnage jumped to an all-time high this year, which results in gridlock. In addition, many experts say the nation’s roads are outdated and are not equipped or engineered to handle the loads being placed upon them.
Many of the curves in the nation’s highways were made 40 years ago and they do not have the banking needed for today’s trucks. To fix the issue would take billions of dollars. There are some particularly dangerous spots for truckers, but in most cases those are not labeled with any signs indicating there could be a risk of rollover to large trucks. According to research, a rollover increases a truck driver’s risk of death in a crash by 30 times.
Not wearing a seat belt can make the problem even worse. About one-third of truck drivers who die in accidents are not wearing seat belts. In rollover crashes, the trailer goes over first, and then snaps the cab over. If the driver is not buckled up, he or she may be ejected or partially ejected. Ejection and partial ejection from the truck’s cab are the highest causes of deaths among truckers killed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a proposed rule to the White House for review that would require electronic stability control to take over braking on large trucks. That technology is now required on SUVs, pickup trucks, and cars. The NHTSA says that the technology could save 60 lives a year and prevent over 2,000 crashes a year. The American Transportation Research Institute is planning to test an in-cab alert system that will sound an alarm as a truck approaches a danger zone. It is also working with states to add more warning signs about rollover risks.
Truck drivers take their lives in their own hands every time they step behind the wheel. If they are injured in an accident, the consequences can be emotionally and financially devastating to them and their families. Fortunately, the civil justice system can offer hope to truck drivers who are injured in accidents that are caused by the negligence of another party. Injured truck drivers may be able to obtain compensation for damages, including lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and medical expenses, by filing a civil lawsuit.
If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident in the Oakland-San Francisco area, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney. She works with clients to help them recover financially after a devastating automobile accident. Call her today at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She offers free consultations to clients, and you pay nothing until she obtains a recovery for you. Call to learn more.