18-wheeler accidents are not only devastating but can also lead to severe injuries or fatalities due to the size and weight of these vehicles. Understanding the common causes of these accidents and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of being involved in such an incident. At the Law Offices of Wilkerson, Jones & Wilkerson in Rock Hill, SC, our attorneys provide legal representation and advice to residents throughout South Carolina who have been affected by 18-wheeler accidents.
In this article, we will discuss the primary factors that contribute to these accidents and provide practical strategies to help prevent them. With this knowledge, both truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers can strive to create a safer environment on the road for all.
Driver Fatigue and Hours of Service Violations
One of the leading causes of 18-wheeler accidents is driver fatigue. According to the [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA, drowsy driving was responsible for approximately 91,000 crashes, 50,000 injuries, and nearly 800 fatalities in a recent year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to restrict truck drivers’ hours without taking mandatory rest breaks. Violating these regulations can contribute to driver fatigue, increasing the risk of an accident. Truck drivers and trucking companies must ensure strict compliance with HOS regulations to maintain safety on the road.
Distracted driving is another significant contributor to 18-wheeler accidents. Distractions can include texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting controls within the truck. The FMCSA states that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash by 23.2 times for truck drivers. To reduce the chances of accidents caused by distracted driving, truck operators must remain focused on the road and avoid engaging in activities that divert their attention from driving.
Improperly Loaded or Unsecured Cargo
Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can cause a truck to become unbalanced or difficult to control, increasing the risk of a rollover or jackknife accident. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 200,000 crashes were caused by debris in the United States from 2011 to 2014. Properly securing and distributing cargo is essential to prevent accidents resulting from shifting loads or cargo falling onto the roadway. Truck drivers and loading crews must adhere to proper loading procedures and use appropriate equipment to secure cargo safely.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
Speeding and aggressive driving can impair a truck driver’s ability to react to changing traffic conditions, increase stopping distances, and reduce the stability of the 18-wheeler. According to the NHTSA, speeding contributes to about 26% of all traffic fatalities. Maintaining a safe speed and avoiding aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, frequent lane changes, and cutting off other vehicles can significantly reduce the risk of an accident.
Inadequate Truck Maintenance
Poorly maintained trucks may be more likely to experience mechanical failures, which can result in accidents. Regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs are crucial to ensure that brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components operate safely and efficiently. Truck drivers and companies must follow prescribed maintenance schedules and promptly address any identified issues to minimize risks.
Lack of Proper Training and Supervision
Inexperienced or inadequately trained truck drivers may be less able to handle difficult road or weather conditions, resulting in a higher likelihood of accidents. Ensuring that drivers receive proper training, including defensive driving techniques, before operating an 18-wheeler is essential for road safety. Additionally, trucking companies must provide regular supervision and refresher training to ensure that drivers maintain safe driving habits.
Adverse Weather Conditions
Heavy rain, snow, fog, or high winds can make driving conditions hazardous for truck drivers. As per data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 23% of all vehicle crashes each year are weather-related. Truck drivers must remain vigilant during inclement weather, adjust their speed accordingly, and pull over safely if conditions become too dangerous for driving. Utilizing weather alerts and monitoring systems to plan routes can also help drivers avoid hazardous conditions.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription or over-the-counter medications, is another significant cause of 18-wheeler accidents. Impaired drivers have reduced reaction times, poor decision-making, and impaired coordination, all of which can contribute to accidents. Truck drivers must adhere to strict policies prohibiting drug and alcohol use while operating a vehicle. Trucking companies should conduct regular drug and alcohol screenings to maintain a safe workforce.
Roadway and Infrastructure Factors
Poorly maintained roads, inadequate signage, and improper lane markings can create dangerous driving conditions for truck drivers. Government agencies and municipalities should prioritize regular inspection and upkeep of roadways to reduce the risk of accidents. Truck drivers should also be trained to recognize and report dangerous roadway conditions to local authorities and use alternative routes whenever possible.
Reducing 18-Wheeler Accident Risks With Expert Legal Support
Understanding the common causes of 18-wheeler accidents and implementing preventive measures are crucial to promoting road safety. However, when accidents result in injuries or fatalities, it’s essential to have knowledgeable and experienced legal representation. The Law Offices of Wilkerson, Jones & Wilkerson in Rock Hill, SC is committed to providing comprehensive legal guidance and support to those affected by 18-wheeler accidents throughout South Carolina.
Our skilled auto injury lawyers work tirelessly to ensure accident victims receive the compensation and justice they deserve. If you or someone you know has been involved in an 18-wheeler accident, contact us today for a free consultation. We will evaluate your case, outline your legal options, and provide the expert guidance necessary to navigate the complex legal process ahead.