Irvine & Orange County Truck Accident Attorneys
Blair & Ramirez LLP is dedicated to helping injured victims recover compensation
Truck accidents are some of the deadliest types of collisions on our roadways. As the trucking industry grows and thrives in direct relation to our demand for consumer goods, the number of semis that share our roads is on the rise. In addition, the trucking industry is under considerable pressure to make deliveries within strict time constraints, and this often leads to cutting safety corners and—consequently—to dangerous accidents.
If you’ve been injured in a semi accident, consult with the team at Blair & Ramirez LLP, an experienced truck accident attorney in Orange County.
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Trucking Industry Crash Statistics
Truck accidents happen regularly. In its 2018 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shares several sobering statistics that illustrate just how prevalent they are. These include:
- Since 2013, the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by large trucks has been on the rise, and they currently account for about 9.1 percent of overall VMT.
- Since 2013, trucks’ freight weights have also consistently risen.
- In 2016, almost 12 percent of the nearly 35,000 fatal traffic accidents involved a semi.
- In 2016, of the more than 7 million nonfatal traffic accidents, about 7.4 percent, involved a semi.
To recap, the trucking industry is growing, and the number of accidents their rigs are involved in is disproportionately large in relation to their VMT. The State of California ranked second for the sheer number of traffic fatalities involving semis in both 2015 and 2016, second only to Texas. Finally, when it comes to truck accidents, the occupants of the other vehicles are the most vulnerable to serious injury or death.
Truck Driver Error
The FMCSA shares that trucker error is responsible for the vast majority of semi accidents. The trucking industry is under considerable stress to produce, and the time crunch is often placed on the drivers themselves. Pressure to perform plays a considerable role in many truck accidents. Truckers, nevertheless, are professional drivers who are held to more rigid safety standards than their noncommercial peers. Truck drivers are responsible for sharing the roads safely with other vehicles. Common truck driver errors are categorized into four major areas that include:
Recognition relates to the trucker’s ability to recognize and adequately respond to what's happening on the roadway in real-time. Failure to recognize impending dangers can be the result of a trucker’s inattention or distraction.
Nonperformance relates to a truck driver’s failure to execute all of his or her driving responsibilities safely. Nonperformance can be the result of a truck driver who suffers from a physical impairment, who succumbs to a health emergency (such as a heart attack or seizure), or who falls asleep behind the wheel.
Issues with performance often relate to overperformance, which includes overcompensating for a driving error, panicking in an emergency situation, or—in general—failing to adequately control the rig.
Decision errors refer to the truck driver’s failure to make safe decisions in relation to the current driving conditions. For example, truckers who speed excessively—including speeding that is relative to the road’s condition—who tailgate, and/or who fail to accurately assess the speed of other vehicles engage in errors of decision.
If a truck driver’s error leaves you or someone you care about injured, contact Blair & Ramirez LLP at (213) 568-4000. We’re an experienced truck accident law firm in Irvine and Orange County.
Hours of service regulations
Because truck accidents are so dangerous and because truckers are professional drivers, the FMCSA imposes strict hours of service (HOS) regulations along with stiff fines and penalties to back them up. These regulations address both daily and weekly limitations, including:
- Within any period of duty, truckers’ driving hours cannot exceed 14 hours.
- This 14 hours of driving must encompass all breaks and stops for gas.
- Truck drivers cannot drive uninterrupted for more than 11 hours, which must include at least a 30-minute break for every 8 hours behind the wheel.
- A trucker cannot log more than 60 driving hours in any given week, and this 60-hour allotment can only be restarted after spending at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
- A truck driver cannot log more than 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days (with the same requirement for 34 consecutive off-duty hours).
- For every day of active trucking, truckers who use their sleeper berths must log at least 8 consecutive hours in them (with another 2 consecutive hours spent either in the berth or otherwise off-duty, or any combination of the two requirements).
- Every commercial truck driver is required to log his or her own break times and hours behind the wheel, including the details of each leg of each trip.
These rules and regulations are extensive because of the dangers posed by fatigued and distracted truckers.
Fatigue is common
As mentioned, the trucking industry is booming, and many trucking companies have a difficult time keeping up with demand. The truck drivers themselves often bear the brunt of this reality, and—as a result—truckers are often fatigued, thus endangering everyone on our roadways. Fatigue impairs truck drivers in a variety of significant ways, such as:
- Fatigued truck drivers have increased reaction times, which makes dangerous driving situations that much more deadly.
- Fatigued truck drivers have diminished attention spans, which means they are ill-equipped to pay adequate attention to their primary task of driving safely.
- Fatigued truck drivers are less alert.
- Fatigued truck drivers are more likely to have lapses in good judgment regarding safe driving (the decision to engage in fatigued driving in the first place, for example).
- Fatigued drivers are more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.
Common truck accidents
The massive trucks that roam our highways are involved in every manner of dangerous accidents, but there are several types that are most common than others. They include:
A rollover occurs when the semi rolls, and the results are exactly as terrifying as they sound. These accidents are classified as either tripped (caused by hitting an obstacle such as a curb) or un-tripped (caused by the truck’s momentum coupled with a dangerous factor such as loss of traction, unsafe driving, and/or adverse road conditions). Rollovers are often caused by truck driver error.
Underrides involve smaller vehicles becoming caught up underneath the semi—often shearing off the smaller vehicle’s roof in the process. These accidents are obviously extremely dangerous. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) relays that almost half of all traffic fatalities involving big rigs are caused by underride accidents.
Rear-end collisions happen when semis barrel into other vehicles from behind. The massive size and weight of semi-trucks make these accidents especially dangerous. In fact, the very size and weight of 18-wheelers make it that much more difficult for them to come to safe stops. FMCSA shares that a fully loaded semi traveling at highway speeds on roads that are in good condition needs the approximate length of two football fields to come to a complete stop. That is under ideal conditions: mitigating circumstances such as inferior road conditions, inclement weather, overloaded and/or poorly loaded freight, and driver error can all lengthen this stopping distance considerably.
Jackknifing occurs when the articulated joint that connects a semi’s cab and trailer allows the two parts to fold in on themselves—an action that is similar to a jackknife closing. Such accidents are not only terrifying, but also endanger everyone who shares the roadway. Jackknife accidents are often caused by trucker errors, including speeding, taking steep curves too quickly, and failing to take inclement weather into consideration.
Your truck accident case
If you or someone you love has been injured—or worse—in a truck accident, the dedicated truck accident lawyers at Blair & Ramirez LLP, a reputable Irvine/Orange County firm, can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled and is necessary for you to achieve your fullest recovery. The physical, financial, and emotional damages associated with semi accidents are often immense. Obtain the legal help you need. Call us at (213) 568-4000 for a free consultation with our attorneys.
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Truckers’ blind spots
We all experience blind spots in our vehicles, and we all find ways to accommodate these blind spots safely. Semi drivers, however, experience massive blind spots—commonly referred to as “no-zones”—all the way around their rigs. When you drive in a trucker’s no-zone, he or she can’t see you, and this puts you in an extremely vulnerable position. Always give semis the room they need on the road to maneuver safely. If you need to pass a tractor-trailer, always pass on the left and do so without lingering near a truck.
If you’ve been injured in a semi accident, consult with an experienced truck accident attorney in Orange County today
Truck accidents are devastating accidents. If a truck accident leaves you injured, the experienced commercial semi-truck accident lawyers at Blair & Ramirez LLP in Irvine are here to help. Our dedicated legal team is committed to aggressively advocating for compensation that addresses your damages in their entirety. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our team or call us at (213) 568-4000 today.