Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Pennsylvania

wilkes barre truck accident lawyer

Wilkes Barre Truck Accident Lawyer Explains Common Causes

Trucks are the largest vehicles on the road, which also makes them among the most dangerous. Fully loaded 18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may travel at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. Commercial trucks cause massive destruction when they slam into other objects or vehicles, even at low speeds. Victims of truck accidents who survive often suffer life-altering injuries that incur millions of dollars in expenses over the course of a lifetime. Fatalities are also far more likely in accidents involving commercial trucks.

There are common causes of truck accidents in Pennsylvania. Read below to learn more about common causes of truck accidents in our state.

Fatigued Driving, Hours of Service and Truck Accidents

Fatigued driving is a major cause of truck accidents. In fact, solving the fatigued driving problem in the commercial trucking industry has been a major headache for regulators and commercial carriers. There are a couple of reasons why fatigued driving can lead to a truck accident.

Federal hours of service rules dictate how long truck drivers can operate before needing to take a mandatory resting period. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are supposed to prevent hours of service violations by digitally recording driving time and distance. Before ELDs became mandatory for most of the commercial trucking industry, some truck drivers would enter their time in paper logbooks. Drivers could falsify the information in logbooks to circumvent hours of service rules.

Unfortunately, due to the inability to falsify ELDs, more drivers are speeding to get to their destinations. More research is necessary to determine whether ELDs can prevent truck accidents. Since ELDs only recently became mandatory, it could be years before we know for sure whether the devices are working as intended. Some trucks are exempt from using ELDs, and older trucks may lack the technology to use ELDs.

Certain health conditions, such as untreated obstructive sleep apnea, can also cause drowsiness while driving. Obstructive sleep apnea is a health condition that causes a cessation in normal breathing patterns during REM and non-REM sleep. As a result, individuals with this condition are unable to maintain normal sleeping patterns. According to the Mayo Clinic, untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to daytime drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. This combination of symptoms is extremely dangerous for an individual who is operating an 80,000-pound vehicle.

Speeding, Reckless Driving and Truck Accidents in Pennsylvania

Speeding is one of the most common causes of truck accidents, not only in Pennsylvania, but across the United States. Drivers, especially contractors, feel enormous pressure to arrive at their destinations on time. It is easier for a commercial carrier to fire a contractor than an employee.

Truck drivers speed and drive dangerously if they are on stimulants or other drugs, such as methamphetamine, amphetamine or alcohol. Drug and alcohol use are a problem among commercial drivers, and there are numerous stories of drivers causing accidents or near-misses while on drugs. In one recent case, a truck driver made a cross country trip while on LSD, methamphetamine and cocaine. Fortunately, police arrested the driver.

Fatigue is another reason why commercial truckers drive above the speed limit. Perhaps most famously, comedian Tracy Morgan suffered a brain injury after being hit by a Walmart driver who was speeding at the time of the crash. Investigators determined the driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for 28 hours and was driving at 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit when he crashed.

Distracted driving is another common cause of fatal truck accidents in Pennsylvania. Much like regular drivers, commercial truckers may use their phones while driving. Federal regulations exist that bar commercial truckers from conducting certain actions with their phones. Some truckers ignore these regulations and cause accidents.

Negligent Hiring and Truck Accidents

Unethical business owners cut corners to increase profits. In the commercial trucking industry, unethical business practices get people killed or seriously injured. This is true in Pennsylvania and across the country.

Commercial carriers may hire truck drivers who are not qualified or have poor driving records. There are even instances of trucking companies hiring drivers who lack a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In other cases, commercial carriers may hire drivers with disqualifying medical conditions or suspended CDLs. These are drivers who are likely unhirable anywhere else, and commercial carriers may give these drivers a lowball offer to save money.

Drivers may continue to operate with a suspended CDL, which greatly increases the risk of an accident. In Pennsylvania, drivers must inform their employers of suspensions. Drivers do not always inform their employers, and innocent people lose their lives as a result.

Training is also very important in the commercial trucking industry. When drivers lack proper training, they are far more likely to cause accidents.

Poor Maintenance Practices and Truck Accidents

Like any vehicle, commercial trucks break down without regular maintenance. Commercial carriers may fail to perform maintenance due to the expenses involved. Carriers may not want to replace expensive parts, such as engines or transmissions. Once again, unethical business practices can very easily cause fatal truck accidents.

When brakes, tires and other equipment are not replaced, trucks cannot safely operate without putting everyone else at risk. For instance, a truck with worn brake pads is going to take longer to stop (if it stops at all). Pieces of equipment, such as a driver’s shaft, may come loose and hit other motorists. Worn tires may cause truck drivers to lose control of their vehicles, especially during rain or freezing conditions.

Improper Loading and Truck Accidents

Commercial carriers and freight companies may cause truck accidents when trucks are not loaded properly. Cargo can shift, especially during sharp turns, which increases the risk of a rollover accident. Improperly load trucks can also jackknife, which would cause the driver to lose control and possibly strike other vehicles or buildings. In other cases, cargo can fall from trucks and strike other motorists.

Contact a Wilkes Barre Truck Accident Lawyer for More Information

Multiple parties could be liable for your accident. It is important to contact a truck accident attorney soon after the wreck occurs. Evidence that is crucial to your truck accident claim can disappear or become unusable. Your attorney can prevent spoliation of evidence. In addition, a truck accident attorney can provide you with advice that can prevent you from making mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.

There are many situations and mistakes that could keep you from obtaining an adequate settlement or verdict. After a truck accident, it is crucial that you give yourself the best chance to obtain compensation capable of covering your injuries or loss.

O’Donnell Law Offices can help with auto accident and truck accident claims. Contact us today at (570)258-8820 for a free consultation with a Wilkes Barre truck accident lawyer.

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