The trucking industry is a thriving industry in North Carolina and across the United States as trucks transport the goods needed to sustain the economy. But when a truck is involved in an accident with a passenger car or truck, the results are often catastrophic. Just the sheer size of a commercial truck versus a passenger vehicle often means serious injury or even death for crash victims. Since 2009, truck crashes have increased by more than 40 percent, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Even though there are federal safety regulations specifically written for the commercial trucking industry, truck crashes have continued to increase every year. There are several common factors behind trucking accidents and below we describe some of them.
Truck Driver Fatigue in Asheville
Truck drivers face an enormous amount of pressure to drive long hours to make their deadlines in transporting their goods. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed many regulations to prevent truck driver fatigue, but often truck drivers ignore these regulations. In fact, the FMCSA published a report that attributes 13 percent of all truck crashes to driver fatigue. Some truck companies also push their drivers to drive more than the maximum hours allowed.
When truck drivers are behind the wheel and are sleepy or fatigued, they are unable to operate the large vehicles safely. Driver fatigue can cause poor decision making, slow reaction times, or distracted driving.
Truck Driver Impairment in Asheville NC
Sadly, truck driver fatigue can also lead to the next common factor of truck accidents: truck driver impairment. Drug and alcohol usage among truck drivers is incredibly prevalent. In an attempt to stay awake for long hours, many truck drivers turn to drug stimulants. Reuters Health researched drug use and habits of truck drivers several years ago and found that eight percent of the drivers tested positive for amphetamines, and four percent tested positive for alcohol. The research was conducted through a voluntary survey, so the actual numbers could be much higher. The regulations prohibit drug use and require truck companies to conduct a pre-employment drug test and then random drug and alcohol testing. Many smaller truck companies, often the small mom & pop operations, do not comply with these safety regulations.
Truck Driver Negligence in Asheville
Often times a truck accident can be caused by the driver's negligence, including aggressive driving or distracted driving. The federal safety rules prohibit truck drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Truck drivers have a duty to pay attention to the road and drive safely, but when they do not, the results are often disastrous. Truck drivers who are under a lot of pressure to make a deadline can turn aggressive and drive recklessly. Driving long hours across the country can also be a bit mind-numbing, and many drivers turn to things like music, videos, games, the internet, or conversations with other drivers over the radio or a cell phone to entertain themselves. All of these activities mean that a driver's attention is not where it should be: on the road.
Trucking Company Negligence
Truck driving companies are ultimately responsible for their drivers' behavior. The legal doctrine for this concept is respondeat superior —an employer is responsible for the bad acts of its employees. This is called vicarious liability. If a company hires a driver that is negligent, the company should be held independently negligent for hiring that person. Sometimes a truck company is also liable if it fails to provide adequate driver background checks, training, or supervision, pushing their drivers to meet impossible deadlines or knowingly violating safety standards or federal guidelines.
Poor Truck Maintenance
When a commercial truck is not properly maintained, it poses a serious risk to all the other drivers on the road. The FMCSA has set standards for truck maintenance. Trucks are supposed to be inspected, repaired, and maintained. Truck drivers are required to conduct a daily pre-trip inspection and a post-trip inspection and report. Parts must be in safe working condition. Emergency accessories like pushout windows and emergency lights are supposed to be inspected every 90 days. Any necessary repairs must be made quickly.
The FMCSA also requires truck drivers to conduct a pre-trip inspection of their tractor-trailer, dump truck, or other commercial vehicle before starting each shift.
The trucking industry has also established additional standards. All trucking companies and drivers must follow these standards established within the industry.
Unfortunately, these standards set by both the government and the trucking industry aren't always followed.
Your Truck Accident Attorneys in Asheville, North Carolina
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck in the greater Asheville area or anywhere in western North Carolina, from Charlotte westward to Murphy, you need an experienced team of attorneys who will investigate your accident and hold the wrongdoers accountable. You deserve compensation for not just your medical expenses, but your physical pain and mental suffering as well. Call the Davis Law Group at 828-350-7700 today to schedule a free initial consultation.