Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents Include Fatigue, Distraction

Drivers of 18-wheelers are in a constant struggle against time. The more they drive, the faster they get their shipments to their destinations and the more money they earn. The downside of this system is that it can encourage truck drivers to drive past the point of exhaustion, putting the lives of other drivers and pedestrians at risk.

In accidents involving semi-trucks and smaller vehicles, semi-trucks have an obvious advantage: size and weight. The occupants of a car or an SUV are unlikely to fare well when a commercial truck is hurtling toward them.

A Closer Look at Commercial Truck Accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board has said that driver fatigue is a significant cause of up to 20 percent of fatalities in large-truck accidents.

In a recent speech to the National Press Club, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said that Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs) should be used in all commercial trucks. This would help prevent truckers' use of an extra logbook. With two logbooks, drivers may drive more than they are legally allowed, using the false logbook to make it appear as though they are getting enough rest. The use of false logbooks, of course, contributes to truck-driver fatigue and the resulting catastrophic accidents.

Driver distraction is also a common cause of commercial truck accidents. A 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that long-haul truck drivers who texted raised their accident risk by 23 times. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has now banned commercial truck and bus drivers from texting while driving. A violation of the rule results in fines of thousands of dollars for both the driver and the carrier.

Other causes of truck accidents include lack of training, speeding, uneven loads, poorly maintained equipment and errors of other drivers.

Legal Options for the Injured

People who have been injured by a negligent truck driver, or who have lost a loved one to a negligent truck driver, may be able to take legal action.

An attorney may investigate whether the commercial truck driver was using a false logbook; whether the driver or the trucking company violated state and federal regulations; whether the driver had been using alcohol or other drugs; and how well the truck was maintained. The attorney may also reconstruct the accident to better learn what happened.

Illinois victims of negligent truck drivers may seek compensation for past and future medical bills and rehabilitation; pain and suffering; lost wages; and other damages.

The injuries that negligent commercial truck drivers cause can be extremely serious. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, speak with a lawyer who can explain your options.