How Can Truck Drivers Cause a Traffic Accident?
Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Oct 03, 2017 in Truck Accidents
Truck driver error is often the cause of traffic accidents involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. In fact, commercial truck drivers are 10 times more likely to cause an accident than poor vehicle maintenance, dangerous weather conditions or hazardous road conditions, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you or someone you love was harmed in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. However, because multiple parties may be involved in a commercial truck operation, you will need a skilled truck accident attorney in Tulsa to help determine if the truck’s driver is at fault for the accident.
There are several ways that a commercial truck driver can cause an accident that resutls in an injury, including:
Fatigue and Hours of Service Violations
One of the most common causes of commercial truck accidents is driver fatigue. Many drivers spend long hours on the road with few breaks. This lack of rest can affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle by:
- Taking focus away from the task of driving safely on the roadway
- Limiting his or her ability to make sound decisions
- Delaying his or her reaction time to upcoming roadway hazards or other vehicles
- Making it difficult to detect or anticipate potential dangers
To prevent driver fatigue, the FMCSA imposes an hours of service rule that limits the number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle within a certain period.
Under the hours of service rule, commercial truck drivers:
- May drive a maximum of 11 hours after spending a consecutive 10 hours off duty
- Must maintain a break and sleep log when traveling on long-distance drives
- Can only drive if no more than eight hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last day off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minute
- Cannot drive a commercial vehicle once they have driven for 60 hours in a consecutive seven-day period or 70 hours in a consecutive eight-day period – a new 7/8 consecutive day period can be restarted only after the driver has taken at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty
The FMCSA requires commercial truck drivers to maintain a log of the hours they spend driving and resting. Trucking companies are required to monitor the number of hours their employees spend driving. If a trucking company encourages or allows a driver to falsify his or her recorded service hours, the company could be held liable if an accident occurs.
We will obtain and examine the driver’s logs to determine if he or she followed the hours of service rule or violated this regulation.
Violating Traffic Laws
Commercial truck drivers must follow state and local traffic laws for any area they drive through. However, many truck accidents are caused by commercial drivers violating common traffic laws, including:
- Running red lights
- Disobeying traffic signs and signals
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Making an improper lane change
- Driving without proper license or endorsement
Our truck accident attorneys will review the truck driver’s record to determine if he or she has a history of violating traffic laws. If we find that he or she violated a traffic law or was driving recklessly during the accident, he or she may be liable for your damages.
Driving While Impaired
Commercial vehicle drivers cannot use controlled substances or consume alcohol while operating a vehicle. However, out of all commercial vehicle accidents caused by driver error, 44 percent involved truck drivers that tested positive for prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, according to the FMCSA.
The FMCSA heavily regulates commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol use by requiring them to submit to frequent random drug tests. Additionally, commercial vehicle drivers are required to be tested for drugs and alcohol after any accident involving a serious personal injury, vehicle damage or a human fatality.
If the driver tests positive for a controlled substance or a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or higher, the driver is considered at fault for the collision. If a driver refuses to comply, the employer must remove the driver from performing high-risk activities.
All drivers must meet specific requirements to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) before they can operate certain commercial vehicles. Drivers must complete these steps to obtain a CDL:
- Test for and obtain a commercial learners permit (CLP)
- Hold a CLP for a minimum of 14 days
- Take and pass a road skills test, including a vehicle inspection, basic controls and road test
Commercial truck drivers owe motorists a duty to drive in a manner that protects the safety of everyone on the road. However, a driver who lacks the experience and training needed to operate a commercial truck in a safe manner creates a serious danger for others sharing the roadway.
Distracted driving is a dangerous behavior for any motorist to engage in. However, when a commercial truck driver is distracted behind the wheel, the consequences can be fatal.
According to the FMCSA, the chances of a commercial vehicle driver being in a high-risk situation are 23.2 times greater for drivers who text while driving than those who do not.
The FMCSA and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration restrict the use of wireless communication devices to curb driver distraction:
- Commercial truck drivers cannot send or read text messages or emails or enter text to access websites.
- Any action that requires pressing more than one button to use voice communication is banned.
- Mobile phones can only be used hands-free for voice communication.
- Commercial truckers cannot unsafely reach for a device, hold a cellphone or press more than one button on a device while driving.
Commercial drivers who violate the FMCSA’s ban on hand-held devices face serious penalties, including losing their license and facing fines. Additionally, trucking companies cannot require or allow their drivers to use cellphones illegally or they can be fined up to $11,000.
If our attorneys find that your truck accident was caused by a driver distracted by his or her cellphone, we will work to hold the driver liable for your damages.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers Now
In the aftermath of a truck accident, many victims suffer serious injuries and expensive medical bills that can become difficult to pay if their injury prevents them from working.
For this reason, The Edwards Law Firm’s Tulsa personal injury attorneys will pursue a negligent truck driver and any other party that may be liable for your accident. Our knowledge of the trucking industry’s laws and regulations has provided us with the skills needed to fight for your rights as we attempt to maximize your claim’s compensation.
Do not hesitate to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a member of our legal team. All of our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay legal fees if we recover compensation for you.