Truck Accidents are Among the Deadliest Crashes on Philadelphia Roadways
Commercial trucking is a vital part of our economy, both in the greater Philadelphia area and nationwide. But operating a large truck takes a high level of training, experience and caution. Due to the size and complexity of operating a commercial vehicle, accidents involving large trucks can result in serious and fatal injuries to those who share the roadways.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that in 2016, 3,986 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Since 2009, the number of fatalities has jumped 27 percent. Out of those killed, 17 percent were truck occupants, 66 percent were passenger vehicle occupants and 16 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians. That means that in the vast majority of fatal crashes, someone other than the trucker is killed.
What causes truck accidents?
There are a number of factors that can lead to a truck accident. They usually include:
- Hazardous weather: Winter weather, heavy rain, high winds and dense fog are some of the most hazardous weather conditions to exist on Pennsylvania roadways. It's always best to slow down and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, especially large trucks.
- Driver fatigue: Long hours spent behind the wheel can cause truck drivers to fall asleep. The recent federal mandate requiring electronic logging devices (ELD) in all trucks is designed to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. Previously, truck drivers were able to write down false hours on the paper-based logs in order to cram in as many miles as possible. However, the ELDs can't be falsified, which should accurately enforce the legal limit of 11 hours on the road after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Nevertheless, fatigued driving remains a serious problem among truck drivers, and driving while exhausted is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
- Distracted driving: Using a handheld device, programming a GPS, adjusting a radio or eating can contribute to a truck accident. Distracted driving is a problem for all motorists, not just truckers, but truck drivers are especially prone to distracted driving because they spend so many hours behind the wheel.
There are many actions already being taken to improve road safety. Aside from the mandated ELDs, there are other technological advances being ushered in.
Old and new safety measures can help to prevent truck accidents
One technological advance that could reduce accident risks associated large trucks is truck platooning. This involves the linking of multiple commercial vehicles in a row, led by one truck. An automated driving system is implemented through computers installed in each truck. As a result, very little action is needed by truckers following a platoon, which often allows for rest periods.
Self-driving trucks are also another wave of the future that could reduce and prevent accidents. Autonomous trucks can be programmed to travel to chosen destinations and detect obstacles ahead.
Not every safety measure requires cutting-edge technology; some have been available for quite some time. For example, trucks equipped with better mirror systems have been shown to significantly reduce accidents.
Most truck accidents can be blamed on trucker, trucking company negligence
While new technologies can certainly make a difference, ultimately, the responsibility for most truck crashes falls on the trucker or trucking company. Common-sense precautions can help to prevent potentially fatal truck accidents, including:
- Get plenty of sleep to prevent drowsy driving.
- Avoid engaging in distractions such as using handheld devices, programming a GPS or eating while driving.
- Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front and be prepared to slow down during heavy traffic conditions.
- Avoid consuming excess sugar, caffeine or anything that can cause fatigue later in the day.
- Drive slowly during hazardous weather conditions.
- Take frequent breaks at the many rest stops available along the route.
Unfortunately, too many trucking companies put profit ahead of safety and pressure their drivers to engage in unsafe behaviors behind the wheel. When that happens, the risk of an accident dramatically increases, and in most cases, it's another road user who pays the price.
Accidents involving large trucks can be complex as there are usually multiple parties involved. Trucking companies typically have a host of insurance providers, attorneys and investigators ready to take action on their behalf. That's why you need an experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorney on your side. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck crash, contact the attorneys at Villari, Brandes & Giannone, P.C. today.