8 Reasons Why Truck Accidents Happen on South Carolina Roads

Whenever you drive, you are likely to encounter large trucks, especially as you travel along South Carolina’s interstates and other major highways. The sheer size of these trucks means that if a truck gets into an accident, it increases the likelihood of serious injuries or worse for the occupants of other vehicles.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,964 people were killed in crashes involving a large truck in a single recent year, with 67 of those occurring in South Carolina. And 71 percent of those killed were in vehicles other than the large truck. Another 95,000 people were injured in large truck crashes nationwide.

A number of things can contribute to large truck crashes, such as these 8 common factors in truck accidents:

1. Driver fatigue and hours-of-service rule violations.

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Federal regulations restrict truckers to driving an average maximum of 70 hours per work week, and they have to take a 30-minue break during the first eight hours of a shift, all within the confines of an 11-hour daily driving limit in a 14-hour workday. Once a driver reaches 70 hours, he or she must rest for 34 hours before driving again. These regulations are meant to reduce driver fatigue, which is a major contributor to accidents involving tractor-trailers.

2. Employer and economic pressure to meet unrealistic schedules.

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Trucking companies, like all companies, are in business to make money. That can create pressure for drivers to go farther and faster, which can lead to unsafe driving and accidents. Even independent drivers are under financial pressure to stay at the wheel for long stretches. That’s because truckers are almost always paid by the mile. Truckers have a saying, “If the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning.”

3. Over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse.

People who drive for a living have to be especially careful of the effects of over-the-counter and prescription medications, which can cause a driver to become sleepy, dizzy or otherwise unfit to be behind the wheel. Some drivers abuse legal medications, using them as stimulants to help them stay awake. However, this can create dangerous, unintended consequences that actually make drivers less safe. In addition, NHTSA reports that 2 percent of large-truck drivers in fatal accidents were legally drunk. The legal limit for commercial drivers is half that of other drivers.

4. Distracted driving.

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Any activity that takes a driver’s eyes and mind off of the road – including texting, talking on the phone and eating – is a danger. In one recent year, 3,154 people were killed in traffic accidents involv­ing distracted drivers and approximately 424,000 people were injured, according to Distraction.gov. Long hours on the road make it tempting for truckers to turn to electronic diversions. Some have even been known to watch movies at the wheel. Tools of the trade, such as electronic dispatching equipment and CB radios, can also lead to driver distraction.

5. Equipment failure and maintenance problems.

Large trucks, even more so than other vehicles, must be properly maintained and repaired. Accidents can happen if trucks aren’t in good working condition, especially for parts such as air brakes.

6. Improperly loaded cargo and unbalanced loads.

Unbalanced loads on trucks can increase the chance of a rollover accident. Overloading a truck makes it more likely to become unbalanced, and it is also dangerous and illegal. Overloaded trucks take longer to stop, increasing the risk of an accident.

7. Reckless driving, including speeding.

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Trucks need extra space to stop or avoid an accident, especially at high speeds. Driving a truck above the speed limit, or too fast for driving conditions, or making improper lane changes can all increase the likelihood of an accident.

8. Poor driver training.

Driving a large truck is not the same as driving a passenger vehicle. Tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks turn, handle and stop differently. Drivers need training and experience to safely operate a large truck. Insufficient training can lead to accidents. For example, according to NHTSA, 20 percent of large-truck crashes occur when a truck is turning or negotiating a curve. Thorough driver training helps driver learn to properly make turns and drive through curves.

When working on a truck accident case, an experienced South Carolina truck accident attorney may work with experts to investigate these and other possible causes of the accident, including looking through driver logs, so-called “black box” data recorders and investigating any evidence of drug or alcohol use or abuse or violations of other trucking regulations.

If you have been injured in a large truck accident, it’s important to contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible so an independent investigation can begin before evidence fades away.

Sources:

(Firm page: https://www.joyelawfirm.com/practice-areas/charleston-tractor-trailer-crash-lawyer/)