When large, powerful trucks collide with smaller passenger vehicles, they can cause serious accidents. Mistakes happen, but professional truck drivers pledge to drive carefully and protect others on the road. When they fail their duty by driving recklessly, driving while exhausted, abusing substances, failing to check their vehicle, or responding poorly to inclement weather, they endanger others. Read on to learn about some common truck driver errors that lead to accidents. If you or someone you know suffered a truck accident, contact Godsey Martin, PC, where we can investigate what happened and fight for compensation.
Truck drivers typically aim to drive carefully, but unsafe decisions can cause accidents on the road. Trucks require unique skill, and even the smallest lapse in judgment could be dangerous. There are many ways that truck drivers can drive recklessly and cause a collision. Common mistakes include:
- Turning or changing lanes without a turn signal.
- Pulling out ahead of a smaller car.
- Driving too closely behind another vehicle.
- Neglecting to obey posted signs.
- Changing lanes frequently.
- Turning too widely.
- Failing to check blind spots.
- Disobeying the right of way.
This style of aggressive driving can quickly escalate, as the actions of a truck can easily affect the smaller vehicles they often drive alongside. Some truck drivers may also cause accidents by using electronic devices while driving. Texting, talking on the phone, or fiddling with the stereo can distract drivers from the road and lead them to veer into adjacent lanes of traffic, run a red light, or rear-end the car ahead of them.
Failure To Check Equipment
Improper equipment setup can also lead to accidents with trucks. Most truck drivers are required to check their trucks, cargo, and accessories carefully. They typically keep a detailed record of this information. If a driver fails to inspect their vehicle before beginning their drive, performs a sloppy inspection, or misreports their findings on the inspection log, they could be liable for the damage they cause.
Long distances and heavy loads can put stress on a truck’s engine, parts, and tires, so it’s important that truck drivers pay special attention to their vehicle for any signs that service is necessary. Maintenance issues like broken turn signals, burned-out lights, failing transmissions, faulty brakes, and misaligned tires can cause a driver to lose control of the road or miscommunicate with the other drivers around them. It’s also vital that the drivers secure their cargo before driving and pay attention to their truck’s weight limits. Overloaded rigs can be unstable, and loose cargo can easily impair other drivers.
Exhaustion and Impairment
Because of the long hours and busy schedules truck drivers often maintain, some drive while fatigued. Fatigue is dangerous for many reasons. It can cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel, which can have dire consequences. Fatigue might also weaken a truck driver’s decision-making skills, leading them to make impulsive, unwise choices on the road. Many truck drivers work through the night, and the lack of noise and light can worsen fatigue.
It’s possible for drivers to stay awake for too long or get poor-quality rest because of their accommodations. Some trucking companies give drivers inconsistent schedules, leading to unpredictable sleep schedules. For example, a driver who moves from a late-night shift to an afternoon shift might have trouble staying alert at 2 p.m. because they’d usually be sleeping at this hour. Federal laws restrict drivers to 10- or 11-hour shifts at maximum with mandatory breaks, but some drivers or companies ignore these regulations.
Fatigue isn’t the only physical condition that can lead to truck accidents. While trucking companies typically have strict rules about substance use, some drivers may operate their vehicles after using alcohol or drugs, causing unsafe behavior. Drivers might turn to stimulants or other substances to help them stay awake or stay focused during the long shifts or nighttime drives, but these materials can severely impair their judgment. Drug and alcohol abuse can limit a driver’s ability to see, inspire risky behavior, and dull their motor skills.
Improper Weather Protocol
Extreme weather can make it harder to operate a large vehicle safely, and when truck drivers don’t respond properly to weather changes, it can be dangerous. Precipitation like heavy rainfall, sleet, or snow can create slick roads and add additional traffic hazards. It takes longer to stop safely during rain or snow, especially when driving a heavy vehicle like a cargo truck. If drivers don’t stop carefully enough, they might slide into oncoming traffic.
In addition, conditions like fog and rain can also make it difficult to see through a windshield. If truck drivers don’t use the right setting on their windshield wipers and use their mirrors, they might miss a nearby vehicle.
It’s important for drivers to pay close attention to their surroundings to understand how inclement weather may affect their driving. Even after rain or snow stops, pavement remains wet and requires careful driving. It’s often safest for drivers to pull over during ice storms or heavy rain, but some choose to keep driving. Trucking companies typically offer monetary incentives for higher productivity and set tight deadlines, so some drivers might push through unsafe conditions to make more money. However, driving a big rig during extreme weather can be highly dangerous.
Trucks drivers have the training and professional experience that should equip them to stay safe during adverse weather. While many trucking companies offer training that teaches drivers how to behave during rain, heavy winds, ice, and other types of weather, some drivers might rush through the information or neglect to take notes. This information is crucial to their role, and failing to take protective measures can cause accidents.
If a truck accident has injured you or a loved one in Texas, our firm is ready to fight on your behalf. Many truck accidents result from driver negligence, and if a careless error led to hospitalization, suffering, or even death, you and your family deserve compensation. We help victims of truck accidents in the Houston and Dallas areas recover damages like medical bills, lost wages, and more. To speak with one of our experienced attorneys about your case, you can schedule a free consultation today.