Driving a commercial truck is a skill that is attained through proper training and experience. The size and delayed responsiveness, compared to the average passenger vehicle, make operating these trucks an endeavor that creates a heightened chance of a serious accident. Trucking accidents are more likely to produce severe injury and death due to the extent of the damage sustained by the other vehicle. Regulators, understanding this risk, have strict rules about the licensure of operators, necessary training and trip standards, as well as load restrictions and other various requirements, all in an effort to reduce the occurrence of accidents.
Because of the risk these vehicles pose to the life and health of others on the road in the event of an accident, one area of truck operation that is of particular focus by regulators is the amount of hours a driver may be on the road before a substantial break is required (currently, 11 hours). Drivers are required to log their hours to ensure compliance. However, the delivery schedules imposed on many drivers make complying with this rule practically impossible, leading some to drive while extremely fatigued, and later falsify log books to avoid violations that can put their license at risk for suspension or revocation.
This practice can be deadly in an accident, and make the driver and trucking company liable to victims for compensation. A discussion of the physics behind why most trucking accidents produce catastrophic injuries, and how a victim may seek to hold those at fault legally responsible, will follow below.
As is generally known, commercial trucks are bigger, heavier, and much more unwieldy than passenger cars. These differences are especially important in stopping. The weight and speed a truck is traveling are the main forces that determine how long it takes the vehicle to slow down or come to a full stop. The larger the truck and the heavier the load being transported, the longer it will take for the speed and velocity of the truck to decrease.
Further, the faster a truck is going at the time a collision occurs and the amount of friction the truck has with the road surface, an element controlled by weather, the condition of the road, and the type of materials used to pave it, the greater the force transferred to the object hit, i.e., the other cars.
What these facts mean in the event of an accident is, even if the driver responds as soon as possible to a potential accident and is able to account for other external factors that may influence the best path to complete a safe stop, it still may not be enough time to avoid a crash. Factor in driver fatigue, which slows response time, and the likelihood of avoiding an accident shrink even further. This dangerous possibility is the primary reason behind the driving hour restrictions truck drivers are supposed to follow. Failure to adhere to them puts everyone else at risk, and if an accident occurs, should lead to the responsibility to pay for the victims’ injuries.
The legal claim most commonly used to hold another party at fault for an accident is negligence. All drivers, including those operating commercial vehicles, have a legal duty to drive responsibly, which includes not driving when extremely tired. Certainly, the driver is at fault if fatigue caused him/her to drive erratically or fail to brake in time, but the trucking company that hired the driver is may also be responsible for damages, especially if it knew, encouraged, or condoned keeping inaccurate logbooks for the sake of transporting goods more quickly. An experienced accident attorney will know how to gather and utilize this evidence to prove both the driver and truck company are at fault.
You should be able to trust that commercial truck operators are following the rules to make driving reasonably safe for everyone. If you were injured in an accident, you need to talk to the dedicated DuPage County truck accident attorneys at Mevorah Law Group, LLC about your legal rights. You should not pay for someone’s negligent behavior, and our Chicago law firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (630) 932-9100 for a free consultation.
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