Home to a confusing network of highways and thousands of industries and businesses, the area in and around Whittier is prone to serious truck crashes causing injury and death. In fact, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2016 Whittier ranked 17th out of 104 California cities in terms of fatal and injury crashes. Below is a look at some of the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents. If you’ve been hurt in a Whittier truck accident, contact Hanning & Sacchetto at 562-698-6446 for a free consultation on your truck accident claims.
Drowsy driving doesn’t just happen late at night. Driver fatigue can come on suddenly at any time, especially during long stretches of highway driving. Semi-truck drivers are therefore extremely susceptible to driver fatigue simply due to the nature of their job. Compounding the problem is the long number of hours truck drivers are compelled to be behind the wheel. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – the federal agency tasked with regulating the trucking industry for safety – writes rules and regulations regarding how long truckers can be on duty and behind the wheel before being required to take a break. Unfortunately, the trucking industry lobby has so much influence on these rules that federal regulations allow truckers to be on duty for 14 hours straight, including 11 hours behind the wheel, before being forced to take significant time off. Within that span, only a 30-minute rest is required after as much as eight hours of driving. Additionally, FMCSA rules allow a truck driver’s “workweek” to stretch for 60 or 70 hours over seven or eight consecutive days.
These generous hours of service rules are not enough, however, and trucking companies and financial incentives continue to pressure drivers to do whatever it takes to deliver their loads as soon as possible. When trucks are pulled over for annual roadside inspections, about a third of all drivers are found to be in violation of the hours of service rules, including going so far as to falsify their records and logs to hide their noncompliance. It’s no wonder drowsy driving and driver fatigue pose such a risk of truck accidents.
Speeding, Drunk Driving, Distracted Driving
The leading causes of all motor vehicle accidents also apply to causing truck accidents as well. Despite their heavy loads and responsibilities to their employers and others on the road, truck drivers engage in reckless and aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, just like drivers of other motor vehicles do. Distracted driving due to talking and texting on the phone while driving or engaging in on-screen navigation, social media and infotainment, is linked to a serious rise in traffic accidents over the past few years.
Negligent Truck Maintenance
FMCSA rules require truck drivers to inspect their vehicle at the beginning of every shift, and trucking companies are required to maintain their fleets in good working order through periodic inspections, repair and maintenance. Nevertheless, during roadside inspections nearly a quarter of all commercial trucks stopped and inspected are immediately pulled from service for violations of brake system standards. Bad or missing brake components, worn tires, cracked or missing mirrors and nonfunctioning signal lights due to negligent truck maintenance are typical truck maintenance failures that can cause a serious or catastrophic truck accident.
Unbalanced or Overloaded Trailers
FMCSA standards put limits on the height, width and weight of trailers and their loads. An overloaded trailer can put undue stress on tires and brakes, causing a critical failure and truck accidents. Also, improperly loaded trailers can cause accidents when the load shifts, leading to loss of control and setting up conditions for a jackknife or rollover accident.
Help is Available after a Serious Whittier Truck Accident Injury
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident, call the Whittier truck accident lawyers at Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP at 562-698-6446. Your consultation is free, and we won’t charge you any fee until after we have recovered compensation on your behalf.