Tractor trailers are less maneuverable, start more slowly and take longer to stop than other vehicles. They are particularly susceptible to adverse road conditions. The average semi truck with trailer can range from 12,100 pounds to 80,000 pounds.
The federal government even allows more and more trucks to operate at an overload capacity of over 80,000 pounds! That means a large commercial truck like an 18-wheeler weighs about 25 times the average automobile – up to 40 times more than some small cars. If a tractor trailer strikes a semi truck in the rear, it does not stop or slow appreciably.
When you factor in the size of the truck with the speed and weight, you can see why the possibility of other vehicles becoming part of an accident is great. In fact, tractor trailer accidents account for an eighth of all traffic fatalities.
Fatigue Caused by a Lack of Sleep Can Cause Truck Accidents
Another important factor in tractor-trailer accidents is the truck driver. In more than 80 percent of tractor trailer traffic accidents, the non-commercial driver is not at fault. Furthermore, most of the deaths or injuries in such accidents happen to the non-commercial driver.
There are many reasons truck drivers become the cause of accidents. One of the critical reasons is fatigue. Semi truck drivers are nearly always at work behind the wheel and most of the drivers work long shifts.
Truck drivers are supposed to be limited to 12-hour shifts. Truck drivers are required to keep records to log their hours of service.
But, the nature of the trucking industry is that more miles means more money, but it also means more hours. There’s always an incentive for truckers to push the envelope.
Sometimes this means drivers carry two sets of books. One set of books records the real amount of time they’ve been on the road – those are the books that they get paid by. The other version records less time, shows everything being done by the rules – those are the books that a driver shows to the Department of Transportation. While there exist penalties for falsifying records, they are not very severe or effective at first. Yet, it only takes a few cases of abuse to make the road more dangerous.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.