Due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, they impose a high risk of serious injury and death when involved in accidents. There are so many of these types of vehicles on California freeways and because they are responsible for transporting and distributing products and goods across the state, large trucks are hard to avoid. Every year in the United States, approximately 140,000 injuries are caused by truck accidents, and roughly 5,000 will result in death.
Considering the magnitude of these statistics, strict safety guidelines have been implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to protect truckers and other drivers and passengers on the road. These safety guidelines restrict how many hours a truck driver can drive, how frequently they must rest, and also sought to impose vehicle safety regulations. In an effort to log more hours or increase productivity, some truckers choose to ignore these guidelines, putting other road travelers at risk.
Some common factors causing truck accidents include:
As explained above, there are countless causes which can attribute to accidents with large commercial trucks; however, one of the most prominent occurs when truck drivers get behind the wheel tired. While tired drivers are always a hazard on the road, it is especially a concern when the vehicle that they are driving can weigh up to 80,000 pounds compared to the 4,000 of most passenger vehicles. Commercial truck drivers are also under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines, and many only get paid per mile, which can encourage relying on substances to stay awake instead of natural rest.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates what is known as hours-of-service (HOS) which are laws governing how often truck drivers are allowed to drive. HOS regulations apply to any truck driver who operates a commercial vehicle which weighs more than 10,001 pounds, is designed to transport more than 16 passengers, or a vehicle involved in Interstate or intrastate commerce. These rules are complex and vary depending on the type of driver, type of cargo and more. For example though, a driver who is carrying property is regulated by an 11-hour driving limit after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
On the other hand, a commercial driver who is carrying passengers is regulated by a 10-hour driving limit after taking 8 consecutive hours off duty. Both also have on-duty limits, which state that a property-carrying driver may not drive past 14 consecutive hours being on duty, whereas a passenger-carrying driver may not drive if they have been on duty for 15 consecutive hours, with off-duty time not being included. As you can see, these laws are complex. If you have been involved in a truck accident where you suspect the driver was fatigued or falling asleep behind the wheel, you should not hesitate to contact our personal injury team.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in San Fernando Valley, we want you to know that you may be able to take legal action against the responsible party. Whether a truck driver, vehicle safety inspector, mechanic, or other driver is responsible for causing a truck accident, a San Fernando Valley personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve for things like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact a San Fernando Valley truck accident lawyer today if you have been injured in a truck accident!