8 Of The Deadliest Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents

We all know that the trucking industry powers America.  Without the U.S. trucking fleet, we would be faced with a drastic shortage of supplies being delivered to the American public.  While the trucking industry is very important, the large numbers of heavy trucks do pose an increased risk for other drivers.  Like everyone, truck drivers make mistakes too.  But, when a driver makes a mistake in a heavy truck, those accidents can be deadly.  Here are 8 of the deadliest causes of tractor trailer accidents:

Not Keeping A Proper Lookout

The manual for commercial drivers licenses (CDL) says that truck drivers should always be looking 12 to 15 seconds ahead to watch out for hazards in the road. This is about 1 block at low speeds and a 1/4 mile at highway speeds.  Because stopping or changing lanes in a large truck takes a lot of distance, looking ahead is important.  Truck drivers often fail to look far enough ahead for brake lights from slowing vehicles and cars that are turning or changing lanes.

Lane Changes

It is hard to see a small car that is sitting in a truck driver’s blind spot.  The CDL manual indicates that truck drivers should check their mirrors before changing lanes to make sure there’s enough room.  Then, check again after signalling to make sure no one has moved in their blind spots.  Finally, truck drivers should check their mirrors right after starting the lane change to double-check that the path is clear.

Crossing Traffic

Truck drivers will need a much larger gap in traffic to cross into or enter traffic.  This is caused by the slow acceleration of trucks as well as the space large trucks need to fully occupy a lane.

Stopping On The Side of the Roadway

Drivers frequently crash into the back of trucks that are parked because they think it is moving normally.  It is extremely important for a truck driver to use his four-way emergency flashers and place warning signals behind his truck whenever he stops on the side of the road.  Truck drivers should not trust their taillights to give enough warning.  Warning devices should be placed at intervals of 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet toward the approaching traffic.

Not Allowing For Stopping Distances

To get a CDL, truck drivers need to know that it takes 450 feet to stop at a speed of 55 mph.  They should be able to calculate stopping distances at different speeds.  There are several distance calculations that truck drivers should know:

Perception distance:  This is the distance that a vehicle travels from the time your eyes see a hazard until your brain recognizes it as a hazard.  For an alert driver, the perception time is about 3/4 of a second.  So, traveling at 55 mph, your vehicle will travel about 60 feet in 3/4 of a second.

Reaction distance:  This is the distance that your vehicle travels from the time your brain tells your foot to hit the brake until your foot actually pushes the brake pedal.  The typical driver has a reaction time of about 3/4 of a second.  So, reaction distance would account for yet another 60 feet traveled at 55 mph.

Braking distance:  This is the distance that it takes for a vehicle to stop when the brakes are engaged.  Traveling at 55 mph on dry roads, it can take a heavy vehicle about 390 feet or 4 1/2 seconds to brake and come to a stop.

Driving In Adverse Weather Conditions

The CDL manual advises truck drivers to avoid driving in foggy conditions.  Fog is often unexpected and visibility can deteriorate quickly, drivers are cautioned to watch out for foggy conditions and reduce their speed.  Truck drivers should use their 4 way flashers in foggy conditions.

In rainy or snowy weather, truck drivers should reduce their speed by at least 1/3.   So, for example, in rain or snow, truck drivers should reduce their speed in a 55 mph zone to 35 mph.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck or tractor trailer, you might be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance representative very quickly.  Sometimes, insurance companies will try to call you as soon as the day after the accident.  Before you talk to any insurance company, you should get the advice of an experienced truck accident lawyer.  Most lawyers will give you a free consultation to talk about what you might be entitled to receive.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, you can talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer for free . . . NO STRINGS ATTACHED!!

Whether the insurance company contacts you quickly or not, the faster you seek legal advice from a lawyer who knows truck accidents, the better.  With a tractor trailer crash, prompt investigation is critical to successfully recovering money damages in your case.  Because accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating, making sure that things like skid mark measurements and impact marks are preserved are often essential to a good recovery.

Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers

The five lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm have more 145 years of combined experienced handling truck accident cases.  See our tractor trailer accident Case Results here.  Throughout the nearly half century history of the Ritchie Law Firm, our lawyers have handled thousands of devastating crash cases involving serious and complex injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, multiple bone fractures, and even death.

You should not have to bear the financial burden of a wreck that was caused by a negligent truck driver.  Accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we can help you hold the other driver accountable and help you get the compensation you need to pay your bills and recover.

Talk with a Virginia and West Virginia Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a truck or tractor trailer accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident.

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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.