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Fatal Truck Accidents are on the Rise

| Apr 18, 2016 | Firm News

After reaching a record low in 2009, the number of fatal crashes involving large commercial trucks has risen in recent years. In 2013, the number of people who died in trucking accidents was 14 percent higher than it was in 2009.

This has been partially attributed to the lower overall number of truck drivers on the road. According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry has approximately 30,000 fewer drivers than it needs to operate smoothly. Many companies did not fully recover from the 2008 recession and are finding that as older truck drivers retire, there are not enough new drivers to fill the positions they leave open. With fewer drivers available, companies are assigning the remaining drivers more hours, pushing them beyond a safe number of hours and increasing their risk of being involved in collisions.

If you are involved in an accident involving a commercial truck and suffer injuries as a result, you might have grounds to seek a personal injury claim. When you file a personal injury claim, you typically seek monetary compensation for the costs associated with your injuries, such as your medical bills and lost wages due to time spent out of work. Do not ignore your right to file a claim – if you have been injured in any type of accident, do not allow yourself to suffer the financial and physical consequences. Contact an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney to file a claim and seek the compensation you deserve.

How Many Hours are Truckers Allowed to Drive?

Causes of truck accidents can vary from distractions to driver fatigue. Tired, drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk or distracted driving. Commercial truck drivers who are tasked with meeting deadlines are often susceptible to ignoring the signs of physical exhaustion, continuing to drive despite posing a serious risk to all other drivers and pedestrians on the road.

To address this, the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced new laws for truck drivers in 2013, limiting the number of hours they could work each day and on a weekly basis. These new restrictions include the following:

  • Truck drivers may not drive for longer than 11 hours at a time;
  • Workdays may not exceed 14 hours total;
  • During the first eight hours of a truck driver’s shift, he or she must take at least one 30-minute break;
  • Truck drivers may not work more than 70 hours per week. Under previous restrictions, this limit was 82 hours; and
  • Any driver who reaches 70 hours during a workweek must then rest for at least 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights spanning 1-5 AM.

Regular breaks and shorter workdays for truck drivers are positively linked to fewer accidents. Companies who violate these regulations are subject to fines and civil penalties.

Share the Road with California Truckers

Large commercial trucks can weigh as much as 30 times the weight of a passenger vehicle. Because of their size and shape, commercial trucks cannot stop as quickly as smaller vehicles and require much more space to make turns.

Maintain a safe following distance behind trucks and all other vehicles on the road. Remember, truck drivers have a much different perspective of the road than you have, including different blind spots. A good rule to follow when driving alongside big rigs is to always be sure you can see the truck’s mirrors. If you cannot see a truck’s mirrors, its driver cannot see you.

A collision with a big rig can be more catastrophic than a collision with another car or a smaller truck. Always exercise caution when driving alongside these vehicles and if you are not comfortable sharing the road with them, opt for “cars only” sections of highways when these are available.

Contact a San Diego Lawyer

If you have been injured in a California truck accident, you need top-quality representation as you work through the personal injury claim process. Contact Martinez & Schill LLP online or at 619-512-5995 to schedule your initial legal consultation with a skilled San Diego truck accident attorney at our firm. We can thoroughly explain the personal injury claim process to you and negotiate on your behalf for a fair, adequate settlement. Do not wait to begin working with our firm – when you are suffering from any type of personal injury, being proactive with your claim is key to its success.