Recently, I was driving South on I-95 from Daytona Beach to Palm Beach County and encountered a tractor trailer that nearly sideswiped my vehicle. Luckily, I swerved and braked to avoid the accident. I was behind the 18-wheeler and noticed that the big rig failed to maintain a single lane, he was going onto the right shoulder then back over to the middle lane continuously. At one point he drove the center of the big truck down the shoulder lane nearly colliding with an emergency road vehicle that was helping a stranded motorist.
My passenger, Mario, happens to be a cinematographer with The Media Kraken, and began videoing the near catastrophic consequences of when a semi-trailer crashes. During this time, I called Florida Highway Patrol to have the vehicle stopped. FHP located us and followed the truck momentarily, making their own observations, and two FHP vehicles activated their overheadlights and the trucker pulled over. We later learned it was not a dui or a medical condition but a fatigued driver. Accordingly, it led me to write this blog. After all, I am a personal injury lawyer that represents victims of truck driving accidents.
Important Information Regarding Tractor Trailer Safety
Trucking accidents caused by sleepy drivers are a serious problem that can lead to fatal consequences. Drivers of commercial trucks must abide by Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which limit the amount of time they can drive without taking breaks. Generally, HOS rules dictate a 14-hour window for a driver’s daily shift and require a 10-hour break between shifts. Drivers are also required to keep detailed log books tracking their daily shift times and breaks taken. When drivers fail to follow these regulations, they risk driving while fatigued, leading to accidents that can endanger the lives of other motorists on the road. Fatigued drivers are only one cause, overloaded or unbalanced cargo, excessive speed and mechanical failures can also lead to fatal trucking accidents.
It is important for truckers to take regular rest breaks and adhere to HOS regulations in order to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Drivers must also be mindful of their own health and well-being, as exhaustion can lead to dangerous mistakes on the road. Additionally, employers should take steps to ensure their drivers are taking appropriate breaks when mandated by law. By understanding and following these regulations, truckers can help keep the roads safe for everyone.
It is also important to remember that trucking accidents caused by sleepiness are not always the result of HOS violations. Even when drivers follow all regulations, they may still be too tired to drive safely.
The key takeaway here is that it is important for all drivers – both commercial truckers and non-truckers alike – to take regular breaks, pay attention to weekly limitations, and listen to their body when tired. Employers should also ensure their drivers are using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) as mandated by law in order to track drivers’ hours. By doing so, they can help reduce the risk of catastrophic injuries that occur when a trucking accident occurs.
OTHER MAJOR REASONS FOR SEMI-TRAILER ACCIDENTS ON THE ROADWAYS
Trucking accidents can also be caused by overloaded or unbalanced cargo, excess speed, and mechanical failures. Overloaded or unbalanced cargo is when a truck’s total weight exceeds its capacity, creating an imbalance that could cause the vehicle to tip over or jackknife. Excess speed increases the risk of a truck being unable to safely maneuver, or take a corner, resulting in an accident. Mechanical failures can also lead to trucking accidents. For example, when brakes fail, the trucker may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. In addition, mechanical failures can affect the steering, causing it to become difficult for the driver to maneuver and control the vehicle. It is important for truckers to be aware of the risks associated with overloaded, unbalanced cargo and excess speed, as well as the potential mechanical failures that can lead to an accident. By being aware of these issues, truckers can take steps to reduce their chances of getting into a crash.
In conclusion, trucking accidents are a serious problem that can have catastrophic consequences. It is important for drivers to abide by Hours of Service regulations and take regular rest breaks in order to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Additionally, it is essential to be aware of other risks posed by overloaded or unbalanced cargo, excess speed, and mechanical failures, and to take the necessary steps to avoid these hazards. By following these safety guidelines, truckers can help keep the roads safe for everyone.
You may not be a trucker but it’s important for every motorist to understand the risks. If you see a tractor trailer swerving , speeding, or otherwise driving erratically, report it to the authorities ( *347 on the highways) and give them as much information as possible. This can help prevent accidents from happening in the first place. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep our roads safe! Thank you for reading.
Written by Roger P. Foley, Personal Injury and Trucking Accident lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida