We’ve all encountered them on the road. A massive semi blasts past you on the highway or a double trailer passes too closely on the interstate. If you’re lucky, you’ll continue down the road, silently shaking your fist at unsafe truck drivers. But if you’re unlucky, you may end up in an accident.
Unsafe Trucking Practices
Some of the most common trucking practices that put others at risk include things that commercial carriers could easily correct with training and proper maintenance. The top causes of trucking accidents include:
Driving While Distracted
We all know it’s a bad idea to text and drive. It’s illegal to do so in Illinois. But many commercial truck drivers still do it, using apps to send messages, play music, or even play games while driving. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of truck driver fatalities and many accidents involving other vehicles. While some carriers have installed driver-facing cameras to cut down on distracted driving, the law doesn’t require cameras. So, many carriers still leave drivers to their own devices.
Driving While Drowsy
Of course, driving while you’re tired is a risk. Unfortunately, the policies of many commercial employers force truck drivers to drive even if they’re exhausted. It is standard practice to pay truck drivers by the mile. If the usual 250-mile, five-hour drive takes seven hours because of traffic, the driver is still only paid for 250 miles. If delays for the truck to wait two hours at the loading dock, employers don’t usually compensate drivers for that forced down-time either. Drivers must often work long hours to maintain their ordinary income.
In 2017, federal laws mandating electronic logging devices went into effect. The U.S. Department of Transportation intended the regulations to ensure that drivers aren’t on the road for more than 11 hours in a 14-hour window and to ensure breaks after eight hours of driving. Unfortunately, three years later, many fleets are still using paper logs, which drivers can falsify while staying on the road longer.
Poor Truck Maintenance & and Aging Fleet
Aging trucks can be a higher risk to others on the road. In its service life, a long-haul tractor-trailer will drive millions of miles. While many commercial trucks usually enter service as part of a larger fleet, after a time, many trucks are sold to smaller carriers or even independent drivers. At that point, these trucks will log millions more miles on the road. If trucks aren’t properly maintained and brakes, tires, and other parts routinely replaced, accidents are more likely.
Newer trucks often have more modern safety features like blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking, and forward-collision warning. But with the workforce, and profits, shrinking, some carriers put off adding newer vehicles and newer technology for as long as possible. As a result, exhausted drivers have more accidents.
Commercial truck drivers can’t control all of the conditions on the road, of course. Often inclement weather can lead to accidents from poor visibility or wet or icy road conditions. But when commercial carrier policies force drivers to work longer hours, provide trucks and trailers that aren’t properly maintained, or fail to implement modern safety features, weather-related accidents are more likely to occur.
Improper Cargo Loading
Trucks and cargo loading teams must follow industry-specific rules regarding loading the bed of a commercial truck. There are weight, size, height, length, and width limitations, and unique methods for securing loads for transportation. Drivers often have no control over how loading teams pack truck beds. Mistakes or negligence during the loading process can cause a load to fall off on the road, sometimes leading to deadly accidents.
Call Cullotta Bravo Law
If you or someone you love has been in a collision with a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or property losses. Give us a call at 630-898-7800 or contact us online. The skilled attorneys at Cullotta Bravo Law specialize in personal injury law. We have more than 30 years of experience helping injured people in Illinois receive the compensation they deserve.