Accidents involving large commercial vehicles, predominantly trucks, impact thousands of lives in Florida every year. Most of these collisions are entirely preventable. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reported 440 commercial vehicle crashes in Escambia County in one recent year alone. These crashes led to two fatalities and over 120 injuries.
If you were injured in a Florida truck accident at little to no fault of your own, the legal team at Cardoso Law, PLLC, is standing by to help you recover the full and fair compensation you deserve from the responsible party. Call us at (850) 466-2073 or visit us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Read on to learn about some of the leading causes of truck accidents.
Driver fatigue is a serious concern for all road users, but especially for truck drivers. Commercial trucks weigh 10-20 times more than passenger cars, are more challenging to handle, take longer to slow down, and are more prone to rollover crashes. For all these reasons and more, truck drivers need plenty of rest before they get behind the wheel. Additionally, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that driving after more than 20 hours without sleep is roughly equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent, the legal limit for most drivers in Florida.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has even set out hours-of-service regulations limiting how long truckers can be behind the wheel without taking a break. Unfortunately, many truck drivers ignore these rules and other laws meant to prevent driver fatigue and accidents. Just like alcohol, severe fatigue can lead to impaired judgment and dulled reflexes, making collisions more likely.
Truck drivers are more likely to cause a collision when they are distracted. Distractions on the road can be broken down into three categories:
- Manual distractions – A manual distraction is anything that causes a driver to take one or both hands off the wheel. If a trucker does not keep both hands on the wheel, it is more difficult to maintain control of their vehicle and avoid a crash. Manual distractions include things like adjusting the radio, using a GPS navigation device, texting while driving, and holding a cell phone.
- Visual distractions – A visual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. With their eyes off the road, truck driver is significantly more likely to overlook an obstacle in their path and cause a crash. Visual distractions include roadside ads, checking a phone, and looking over at passengers.
- Cognitive distractions – A cognitive distraction is anything that takes a trucker’s focus off the act of driving. Lack of focus increases the likelihood of hitting a car, cyclist, or pedestrian. Similarly, a distracted truck driver might not notice a potential hazard until it’s too late to avoid a crash. Common examples of cognitive distractions include having an argument, daydreaming, rehearsing an upcoming conversation, and singing along with music.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
Semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles are much bigger and heavier than passenger cars, which also means they take longer to slow down. And when a truck driver speeds, their stopping distance increases even more, making it that much harder to avoid a collision. Similarly, sudden lane changes, abrupt stops, following too closely, and other forms of aggressive driving increase the odds of causing a truck accident. One study conducted by the FMCSA found that about 23 percent of truck accidents involve truck drivers going too fast for road conditions.
Regular maintenance is essential for large trucks because their parts can wear out quickly when traveling over long distances month after month. If a truck’s brakes, tires, transmission, or other critical components fail during a trip, the driver could lose control and cause a collision. Sadly, some truck drivers and trucking companies do not take these maintenance requirements seriously, putting the truck driver and others on the road at risk.
Overloaded & Improperly Secured Cargo
When a truck’s cargo is not secured properly, it can shift during transit, throwing off the truck’s balance and making a collision more likely. In some cases, improperly secured cargo can fall off a moving truck. When it lands on the road or another vehicle, an accident can occur. Similarly, overloaded trucks are more likely to overturn and cause an accident. Overloading a truck also makes it harder to control, especially when a driver is navigating tight turns or crowded roads.
Driving Under the Influence
All the risks associated with drunk driving increase when an intoxicated truck driver gets behind the wheel. That is why the FMCSA has set the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for truck drivers at 0.04 percent (the legal limit for passenger vehicle drivers is 0.08 percent in most states). Truckers who use drugs and alcohol while driving will have duller reflexes. They may also have impaired judgment and a greater tolerance for risky behavior. All these factors make a truck accident more likely and put others at risk of injury or death.
Poor Road Conditions
Florida does not typically receive a lot of snow or icy weather. However, things like rain, sand, and gravel can make a road more slippery and make it harder for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. Truck drivers must be particularly careful about driving in poor road conditions, as trucks are already harder to control and take longer to stop than passenger cars. Truck drivers should also pay extra attention at night, as low light levels can make it harder to anticipate a potential crash.
Lack of Training or Experience
Proficiency improves with practice. And the less time someone has had to perform a task, the more likely they are to make a mistake. This principle applies to all drivers, but the consequences are often more severe when truckers make a mistake because these outsized vehicles are more likely to cause a catastrophic accident. Additionally, a severe shortage of truck drivers in the United States makes it harder for trucking companies to find safe, experienced drivers. It may even encourage them to hire underqualified drivers.
Contact Our Florida Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Because of their oversized proportions, accidents involving large commercial trucks often lead to catastrophic results. The Florida truck accident attorneys at Cardoso Law, PLLC, are ready to build the strongest possible claim on your behalf and help you recover the full and fair compensation you deserve. Call us at (850) 466-2073 or visit us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Pensacola truck accident lawyer.