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Jackknife to T-bone: How Trucks Crash

In 2015, trucks were involved in 3,838 fatal crashes. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, police received 317,000 reports of crashes involving a large truck.

These are disturbing statistics. We all see massive trucks on the road every day. They are vital to our economy, transporting products and other material across the nation.

But because of their size and weight, any collision involving a truck has the potential of being much more serious than a collision with a car or other vehicle. Truck crashes can cause multivehicle accidents. They can cause loss of life and injuries more frequently because of the relative size.

Not only that, but trucks can crash for multiple reasons. They can become unstable if the products have not been loaded properly. They can become dangerous if they have not been properly maintained. All too often, truck drivers must make schedules that do not allow them enough sleep or require them to drive too fast. Drowsy and speeding drivers may make fatal or injurious errors in judgment, or be unable to react to traffic conditions quickly.

Part of the issue is the way that trucks crash. Here are some of the most common type of truck collisions.

Jackknife

If you’ve listened to morning news reports, chances are you’ve heard traffic alerts of a jackknifed truck. A jackknife means that the driver had to stop too suddenly and hit the brakes too hard, causing the truck to skid. The skid causes the back half of the truck to turn at a 90-degree angle to the front part — the same angle as an open jackknife.

T-Bone

Any driver can be in a T-Bone accident. It’s caused by running a red light and hitting the middle of a vehicle crossing the intersection. This is always a serious accident, but the size of a truck makes the accident far more severe.

Rollover

If the driver loses control of the truck, whether due to inadequate maintenance, weather conditions, or other reasons, it can skid and roll over. A rollover can occur across multiple lanes of traffic, affecting multiple vehicles. Rollover trucks can also catch fire.

Underride

If a truck stops quickly, a smaller vehicle following it can become lodged underneath it. This accident is very likely to be fatal.

Lost or Falling Load

If cargo has not been properly secured, it can fall off the truck as it drives. The initial fall and the debris from the cargo can both cause serious accidents.

Do You Need a Truck Accident Attorney?

Have you or a loved one been injured or killed in a truck accident? Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are seasoned truck accident attorneys who will fight to see that justice is done.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and potential next steps. Call today for a free consultation with an experienced New York City and Long Island truck accident lawyer.

More Resources on the Different Types of Truck Accidents:

  1. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Vital Signs, March 2015. Trucker Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/truck-safety/index.html.
  2. United States Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/safety/data-and-statistics/81121/2017-pocket-guide-large-truck-and-bus-statistics-final-508c-0001.pdf

More Truck Drivers Falling Asleep at the Wheel

truck driverDrowsy driving is a leading cause of crashes across the country for all vehicles. But sleepiness and fatigue are believed to cause a disproportionate share of accidents in long-haul trucking, with more truck drivers than ever falling asleep at the wheel.

Long Hours Cause Truck Driver Fatigue, Sleepiness

It’s certainly easy to see why. Several years ago, the number of hours truckers could spend driving in a week was reduced to 70 hours from the previous 82. Yet 70 hours is an extremely long time to spend driving a vehicle in a week. Drivers are restricted to 11-hour days, yet that, too, is an extremely long day spent behind a wheel.

Not only are the hours long, but there is considerable pressure to make them even longer. The trucking industry lobbied hard against reducing the number of hours. Privately, many truckers say that drivers are pressured to work longer hours. Time, after all, is literally money in moving products across the country. Time spent sleeping is unproductive time.

Independent truckers may not feel they can resist pressure to work longer hours. They must establish good relationships with companies and dispatchers to be given work at all. Those relationships may become strained if the truckers do not deliver when the companies need it.

As a result, drivers may be sleepy or fatigued at the wheel. Sleep deprivation and fatigue are known to decrease reaction times, assessment and awareness of potential dangers, and cloud judgement. All of these factors can lead to accidents that imperil the lives of the drivers, people in other vehicles, and bystanders.

Up to 30% of Fatal Trucking Accidents Caused by Fatigue

Statistics on the number of trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving are hard to come by. Although each trucking accident is investigated by the U.S. government, it isn’t always possible to determine fully what caused the crash. If the driver dies, there is no way to check for sleep deprivation, as there is for, say, alcohol intoxication. If the driver lives and is questioned, he may feel he has to protect his livelihood, and may not mention drowsiness as a cause.

However, some studies have shown that the impact of drowsy driving on trucking safety is very high. One study determined that an estimated 31% of truck crashes in which a driver died were caused by driver fatigue. Other studies have put the figure lower, but even 13% or 7% mean too many people are dying due to driver fatigue.

When You Need a Long Island Truck Accident Lawyer

Have you or a loved one been injured or killed in a truck accident on New York highways? Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have years of experience successfully litigating truck accidents. We can assist you in any trucking-related accident.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and possible next steps. Call today for a free consultation with a seasoned New York City and Long Island truck accident lawyer today.

Additional “Truck Driver Fatigue” Resources:

  1. McAuliff, Michael. “Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous and Drivers Are Falling Asleep at the Wheel. Thank Congress.” Huffington Post. April 16, 2016. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-made-trucking-deadlier_us_56fd6f92e4b0a06d58052ee8
  2. Mouawad, Jad and Elizabeth A. Harris. “Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving.” New York Times. April 16, 2014. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-made-trucking-deadlier_us_56fd6f92e4b0a06d58052ee8

4 Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks

truck accident lawyer new yorkSharing the road with big rigs, tractor trailers and semis in New York is no easy task. Every year, hundreds of motorists are seriously injured or killed in truck accidents – many of which were largely preventable.

More than a quarter of a million crashes between passenger cars and commercial trucks happen every year in the United States – with car drivers contributing to many of these collisions. Although some accidents are caused by mechanical failure, bad weather, improperly loaded cargo and fatigued truck drivers, recent reports suggest that passenger drivers may share part of the responsibility.

Understanding some basic limitations of large trucks can help passenger car drivers avoid danger and collision.  Here are four tips to help you drive with confidence near 18-wheelers.

Don’t drive in their blind spots

Truckers have the best visibility on the left side, or driver’s side of the vehicle. However, 18 wheelers still have massive blind spots on all sides known as “No Zones.” Be extremely careful to stay out of these blind spots, on the front, back, left and right side (which is their biggest blind spot). How do you  know if you’re in a No Zone? If you cannot see a truck driver’s face in their side mirror, they can’t see you either. 

Pass trucks on the left-hand side

If you need to pass a semi truck, always do so on their left hand side, which has a smaller blind spot. Put your turn signal on early, accelerate and then pass quickly, ensuring you can see the tractor trailer in your rear view mirror before getting in front. Never pass a truck on a downgrade, or over multiple lanes where visibility is compromised.

Keep a safe distance

Because trucks are bigger and substantially heavier compared to passenger vehicles, they need more time to stop, execute turns and accelerate. Following a truck too closely at high speeds is a recipe for disaster, so avoid tail gating and keep a safe distance between the truck and your vehicle at all times. Also note that tractor trailers take 40 percent longer to stop, and this distance increases with heavy cargo or icy, wet roads. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a fully loaded 18-wheeler traveling under normal road conditions requires a distance of nearly two football fields to stop completely.

Give trucks extra room for turns

Sharp turns are impossible for trucks due to their length and larger size. Extra caution is needed when you see a truck with its turn signal on. They will swing out wide, and may even start turning from a center lane. Pay special attention when trucks are making a right-hand turn. Vehicles that try and pass or are idling alongside the right side can get trapped and literally squeezed against whatever wall, median or barrier is present.

Sharing the highway safely with large commercial vehicles means taking special precautions. Once you understand and respect that tractor trailers take longer to stop, need additional space to maneuver, and are compromised by various blind spots, you can reduce the chances of being in an accident.

NY truck accident law firm

Catastrophic injuries are not uncommon in crashes involving 18 wheelers. Avoid becoming an accident statistic by following the above safety tips and being respectful of other drivers.

New York truck accident lawyers at Edelman, Krasin and Jaye have decades of experience helping Long Islanders and victims throughout NY, and have the case results to prove it. To schedule a free, no-obligation case review, call us toll-free at 800.469.7429.

Resources for “Driving Safely Near Big Trucks”:

  1. State Farm, Safely Share the Road with Large Trucks https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/safety/safely-share-the-road-with-large-trucks
  2. FMCSA, Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses
  3. Life Hacker, A Trucker’s Best Safety Tips for Driving Around a Big Rig on the Highway http://lifehacker.com/a-truckers-best-safety-tips-for-driving-around-a-big-ri-1734797722