A common but little known type of accident involving tractor-trailer trucks in Virginia is the underride collision, in which an automobile either collides with or is shoved into the rear end of the trailer. In these accidents, the occupants of the car suffer death or serious injuries when they are forced against the frame of the trailer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has adopted regulations that are intended to require adequate rear-end trailer shields to guard against such truck accidents, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recently released findings questioning the adequacy of existing regulations and their enforcement.
Last week this Fairfax personal injury legal blog introduced an interesting topic related to causation and liability in truck accidents. Although in many cases an accident between a large truck and a smaller vehicle is the fault of the driver of the big rig, in some cases other drivers may force truck drivers to make evasive maneuvers that result in accidents but that avoid greater harm.
An 18-wheel truck that is loaded to capacity with goods may weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Compared to a smaller personal vehicle which may only weigh 3,000 pounds a truck is a massive thing that is both difficult to get up to speed and difficult to stop once it is rolling along. Fairfax residents who have seen big rigs and other large vehicles in action understand the power that they exude when they are rumbling down the road.
Anyone working long hours without sufficient resting time in between workdays would get tired and truck drivers are no different in that respect. Many may think that since they are driving and sitting all day long, they are not bound to get as tired, but this is not the case. Just like any other occupation, fatigue can lead to a delay in assessing situations and responding slowly. However, unlike other occupations, a truck driver is operating heavy machinery that can turn deadly if not operated properly.
Truck accident victims should be familiar with the different resources and protections available to them. Virginia authorities are investigating a recent fatal truck accident. The truck accident occurred between a tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle. Those investigating the truck accident reported that the semi truck was travelling southbound when it crossed the center line and struck a passenger vehicle traveling northbound. The semi truck overturned due to the force of the truck accident.
Distracted driving involves the diverted focus of a driver from the roadway and safe driving activities towards activities unrelated to driving. Distracted driving increases the risk of a car or truck accident occurring. Driver distraction includes anything that removes the driver's attention or eyes from the roadway and can include distractions inside the cab of a truck or outside of it. Focusing on the road is important for the safety of everyone sharing the roadways.
There are many potential causes of a truck accident. From speeding drivers, to unsafe road conditions, to defective auto parts, there is no single source behind a Virginia truck accident. Frequently, specific behaviors of truck drivers lead to an accident, and some of these actions are more common than others in contributing to truck accidents.
Most Virginians are likely not well-versed in the potential legal ramifications of a truck accident. They will, of course, hope to never be involved in an accident and, therefore, likely know little about how to proceed legally if they find themselves involved in a semi truck accident.
Many truck drivers travel through Virginia during nighttime hours. Truck drivers may travel on overnight shifts or keep odd working hours to avoid heavy traffic during the day, which may be convenient for them, but can result in the major problem of truck driver fatigue.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a report that details the significant impact that truck accidents have on drivers and passengers on the nation's highways. The report contains a tremendous amount of data and reveals some trends that might interest Virginians as they travel along the state's highways.