Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are driven by qualified and licensed individuals, which is why there are fewer truck accidents than passenger vehicle accidents; however, collisions involving CMVs do occur. When these disasters strike, the consequences can be dangerous, if not deadly. Here are a few of the most common reasons CMVs are involved in collisions.
Abrupt Lane Changes
Many passenger vehicle drivers have never operated a CMV; they, therefore, fail to realize CMVs are slow and relatively difficult to move. Unlike cars, which are lighter and more maneuverable, a truck can’t speed up, slow down, or stop as quickly as a smaller car would. This means if someone enters the lane just ahead of a truck, the truck might just smash into the back of the smaller car. Trucks are a lot heavier, which means it takes a lot longer for the brakes to have an effect on the vehicle. By the time the truck reacts to the sudden obstacle, it could be too later.
Driving in a Blind Spot
CMVs can have several blind spots on both sides of the vehicle. When smaller cars and motorcycles occupy these spaces, it’s impossible for the CMV driver to see them. If the truck driver then decides to change lanes, they might smash into a car or smaller vehicle in their blind spots. Likewise, the one just behind the vehicle can also cause a problem. If a car is too close to the back of a CMV, and the CMV needs to brake, the car will collide with the big rig, which will cause much more damage to the passenger vehicle than the commercial truck.
Passenger cars tend to be impatient with the slow speed at which CMVs move. The maximum speed these vehicles are allowed to go on most highways is 55 MPH. People tend to pass the CMVs in an unsafe manner, which can endanger all individuals in the surrounding area. Cars who try to pass on the right might be in a blind spot when the CMV decides to change to the right lane. The same could be said of the left lane, but the blind spot on that side tends to be smaller. Those passing also enter the road ahead of the CMV too close for comfort. Remember, you should keep a large cushion of space between the back of your car and the front of the CMV when you pass it.
Not Predicting Wide Turns
Trucks can’t make sharp turns as well as a smaller vehicle. If a truck needs to turn right, they may be in the left lane, which can be dangerous if a car decides to occupy the right lane and turn right as well. Many drivers understand this, but try to race by a truck trying to turn right first. However, this can be a terrible mistake if they overestimate how much time they have to get by the CMV.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers work long and hard hours. While regulations have given them better shifts, some companies might still encourage drivers to push the envelope. Even with 7 or more hours of sleep, some truck drivers are also working long night shifts, which is difficult for a species evolved to sleep at night and work during the day. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. When a truck driver falls asleep behind the week, the consequences can be deadly.
Even in smaller vehicles, equipment failure can happen. Whether the engine stops working, the fuel tank begins to leak, or the brakes fail, broken machinery can cause a problem. Larger trucks can have even more issues because they have a greater number of parts. A tire could pop if the truck is overweight or strikes a pothole, and if the truck is not given proper maintenance, something that could have been fixed early is left to worsen.
Distracted driving is an incredibly easy mistake to make. With the advent of the cell phone, an increasing number of drivers have gotten into accidents as they attempted to text and drive. Even hands-free devices can be dangerous, as the human brain isn’t capable of perfectly multitasking. While you can talk and drive at the same time, the activity in the brain that oversees moving objects decreases by 1/3 when you have a phone conversation. Truck drivers are no less susceptible to distraction, which is why some CMV accidents happened when the truck driver was distracted by a phone, piece of equipment, or food item.
Speeding is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in general. Speed limits are posted on highways and streets for a reason, but people choose to ignore them because they happen to be in a hurry. The faster you go, however, the less control you have over the vehicle and the longer it takes to come to a halt. If an obstacle enters the lane of a speeding big rig, the CMV is unlikely to stop in time before hitting the object. Likewise, a speeding truck going downhill is more likely to tip over and fall off the highway or onto another vehicle.
Unsafe Driving Practices
Along with speeding comes another number of driving errors. While CMV and passenger vehicle drivers tend to make the same mistakes, there is usually more damage when a CMV is involved. Tailgating, engaging in road rage, failing to check blind spots, frequent lane changing, failing to use signals, or failing to use signals correctly before lane changing can all lead to serious accidents.
All CMV drivers should be adequately trained to deal with any emergency or situation on the road. However, not all of them are. If a driver hasn’t received proper training on how to handle a CMV, how to defensively drive, and so on, the person will be a hazard on the road. Likewise, if a person is unfamiliar with overloading, they may not understand the dangers inherent in putting too much freight on a CMV.
Whether the road is full of construction projects, potholes, or ice, the conditions surrounding the drive can sometimes lead to a collision, even if the driver did everything else right. Rain and black ice can pose a serious hazard to any moving vehicle, but if a truck jackknifes, it can take a number of other vehicles down with it.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by the negligence of the driver or trucking company, talk to one of our skilled Atlanta truck accident attorneys. Pratt Clay, LLC is dedicated to helping the victims of personal injuries seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Let us see what we can do for you in your case.