They say, “With more power comes more responsibility,” and this can’t be truer when it comes to semi-trucks. They are massive, very powerful, and carry immense momentum even when they are being driven slowly. So, if they are not operated responsibly, the consequences could be disastrous. Here are the most common causes for truck accidents that put fellow motorists at the risk of great personal loss.
Semi-trucks are the backbone of a nation’s logistics industry as they play a direct role in ensuring an adequate supply of essential commodities. Such a huge expectation from the industrial complex forces the trucks to stay operational for the maximum possible time, leaving a very narrow window for maintenance and repairs. Often, the importance of regular maintenance and rectifying minor issues are overlooked to an extent where they could result in sudden unexpected failures.
Imagine a semi-truck suddenly suffering a brake failure or a tire burst. No matter how experienced and skillful the driver is, they will be relegated to a mere passenger in such situations. A truck that has suffered a sudden mechanical failure on a public road is a lethal hazard, capable of massive destruction of life and property.
The high demands of the transportation industry not only overworks the trucks but also puts a tremendous amount of stress on the drivers. Since the trucking industry pays the drivers based on the number of miles driven or the number of hours spent on the road, most truck drivers spend very long and non-stop hours behind the wheel. This can only be a recipe for disaster, as fatigue settles in quite easily if one continues to drive without proper rest and sleep.
In the United States, there is a federal limit for the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work every week, and also for the minimum number of hours of rest that is required for every 14 hours of work. However, ask any truck accident lawyer in Chicago, and they will say that of around 11,000 accidents involving tractor-trailers every year in Illinois, a good number of them are caused by driver fatigue. This is because drivers have the tendency to disregard these federal limits in an attempt to earn more money or to meet the brutal targets of the trucking companies.
If you ever had a chance to sit on the driver seat of an eighteen-wheeler, you would know how bad the overall visibility from the cockpit is. The fact that the truck is huge and long inevitably leads to massive blindspots that could hide smaller vehicles like bikes, motorcycles, and even cars. This represents a huge challenge even for the most skillful truck drivers, especially in an urban environment. This factor continues to be one of the most common causes of accidents involving heavy trucks.
Lack of Proper Driver Training
At any given time, there is always a very high demand for truck drivers, as it is a profession that is less popular among young people because of the hard work and responsibility involved. In the interest of keeping a profitable uptime of the trucks, several companies resort to hastening the training process of new recruits and putting them behind the wheel even though they are not fully ready.
Driving such heavy trucks without proper training is very dangerous. Even a small driver error could lead to potentially fatal consequences to fellow road users.
Overspeeding and Drunk Driving
The culture of demanding the drivers to maintain unrealistic schedules for trans-country trips promotes a perilous behavior of overspeeding. Even under normal circumstances, bringing a semi-truck to a halt is a tricky business, and when the speeds are higher than normal, they just become a real menace on the highways. Youtube is full of videos of overspeeding trucks wreaking havoc in traffic.
Drunk driving is another dangerous behavior that stems from the trucking industry’s unhealthy working environment. Overworked truckers with sleep deprivation tend to turn to alcohol to cope, and this amplifies the possibility of a serious mishap on the road.
Every year, way too many lives are lost due to accidents involving trucks, and most of them could be avoided if the aforementioned causes are addressed systematically. More stringent regulations governing the trucking world, tamper-proof automated driver log systems and telematics, and advanced safety technologies have the potential to drastically reduce the chances of accidents. Above all, it is imperative for truck drivers to appreciate the enormity of the responsibility that rests on their shoulders and act with utmost discipline.