Most truck accidents don’t happen on their own. Truck driver negligence is the #1 cause of collisions involving commercial trucks in the United States.
Often, the drivers’ employers share in that blame, as they put unreasonable demands on their employees or perhaps fail to adequately maintain their fleet. The vehicle manufacturers might be responsible as well.
At The Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, our Massachusetts and Rhode Island truck accident attorneys understand how devastating and heartbreaking a trucking accident can be. The damages are typically very severe, and fatalities are not uncommon. That’s why it is important to understand how these accidents happen, as well as the steps we can all take to avoid them.
Let’s look more closely as some of the specific causes of trucking accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Truck Driver Fatigue
If you’ve ever taken a lengthy road trip, or spent several hours on the road in the middle of the night, you know how exhausting a long drive can be. Now imagine that you make those kinds of trips for a living.
Truck driver fatigue is a real problem on our roadways. In fact, lawmakers are so concerned by the high rate of drowsy driving truck accidents that both federal and state law now apply strict regulations to drivers’ work schedules. These laws require that truck drivers limit the number of consecutive hours they spend on the road. Drivers must also take adequate time for resting and sleeping in between shifts.
Unfortunately, some drivers still cheat the system and violate these laws on a regular basis. In fact, it is surprisingly common for the employers themselves to pressure their drivers to bend the rules, either explicitly or implicitly. That is unacceptable, and they can be held legally liable for endangering the rest of us.
Experts believe that truck driver fatigue is even bigger a problem than statistics suggest, as police officers can’t always tell if a driver is tired or is being honest about his or her schedule. Accordingly, it is likely that truck driver fatigue is considerably underreported in this country.
Alcohol, Medications, and Drugs
Sadly, the use of drugs and alcohol is pervasive in some segments of the country’s commercial truck driving population. While many truck drivers behave responsibly, some choose to get behind the wheel of an incredibly large and dangerous vehicle despite the fact that they are drunk, high, or otherwise impaired.
Of course, it is important to point out that illegal drugs aren’t the only problematic intoxicants. Perfectly legal and legitimate prescription medications can cause accidents too. Even over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness or impair a driver’s judgment.
A 2007 study by the federal government found that alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs were involved in 26% of the country’s large truck crashes. 18% involved over-the-counter medications. That makes intoxication one of the leading causes of trucking accidents in the United States.
Truck drivers should never get behind the wheel when using medicines that affect their senses, judgment, or alertness. That even includes prescription drugs that have been legally prescribed by a doctor. Drivers are responsible for reading warning labels, following medication instructions, and ensuring sobriety before driving.
Lack of Familiarity with the Route
The same 2007 federal study found that in 22% of large truck crashes, the truck driver was unfamiliar with the roads he or she was traveling. Due to their size, commercial trucks can’t handle nimble maneuvers or sudden course corrections as well as smaller cars.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are often asked to travel new delivery routes on short notice. Their lack of familiarity with the roads they are traveling can lead to costly errors.
Basic Driver Negligence
Of course, many commercial trucking accidents are caused by the same kind of basic driver negligence that triggers most of the other auto accidents in our state:
- Distracted driving
- Texting and driving
- Failure to check for blind spots (large trucks have many more blind spots than other vehicles)
- Failure to use a turn signal
- Failure to look both ways before making a turn
- Failure to stop at stop signs and/or red lights
- Road rage
- Reckless driving
- Violation of local or state traffic laws
The Bottaro Law Firm: Massachusetts and Rhode Island Truck Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a large truck accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, The Bottaro Law Firm can help. We understand these accidents, we know how to pursue compensation for our clients, and we are committed to demonstrating sincere compassion to victims in their time of need.
We proudly offer a “No Fee Guarantee” to all of our clients. That means you’ll never have to pay anything upfront. We only charge a fee if we win.
Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation with one of our Massachusetts or Rhode Island truck accident attorneys. We’re here for you.