Causes of Truck Accidents - Our Chicago Lawyers Know What's at the Root of Tractor-Trailer Crashes
What causes truck accidents in Illinois? The list of reasons is long. But no matter what the excuse, our truck accident lawyers in Chicago know reckless truck drivers and negligent trucking companies must be held accountable.
- Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents
- Overloaded Trailer Accidents
- Driver Distraction
- Speeding and poor vehicle maintenance
Other common causes include:
- Truckers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Truckers who are poorly trained or inexperienced
- Mechanical failure such as malfunctioning tires, brakes or lights
How The Government Regulates Trucking Companies
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (the "FMCSA") is an arm of the Department of Transportation that regulates the interstate trucking industry. The FMCSA has "hours-of-service rules" that spell out how long drivers can be behind the wheel. Truck companies want to deliver their goods quickly to make bigger profits. To reach their goals, they may put pressure on their drivers to ignore the federal rules. A driver facing this pressure might fall asleep behind the wheel or make an error in judgment because they are just too tired to operate the big rig safely.
Other regulations outlined by the FMCSA include:
- Truck driver drug and alcohol testing program: Certain commercial motor vehicle operators must be tested for alcohol and drugs.
- Truck driver qualifications: Drivers must have licenses that are in good standing and must be medically fit to drive a commercial vehicle. In addition, the driver must not have a record of certain criminal offenses.
- Truck parts and accessories: The agency outlines minimum standards trucking companies must meet for safe operation of their vehicles. There are certain standards for tires, lights, brakes, engines and other equipment. In an accident, our attorneys always investigate whether there was a failure to meet these standards.
Our attorneys are well versed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations-the "Rules of the Road" for truck drivers-and know how to hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable. Many causes of tractor-trailer accidents can be traced back to a violation of one or more of these federal regulations. This next section examines one of the top causes of trucking accidents.
Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents
Sometimes, truck drivers do not take mandatory rest breaks. As a result, drivers fall asleep at the wheel. A telltale sign of a fatigued driver accident is the absence of skid marks at the scene of the truck wreck. In many cases, the trucking company that employs the driver acted negligently. The company may even have ordered the driver to exceed hourly limits behind the wheel, or dispatched the driver to so many destinations that the truck driver had no choice but to speed, or drive longer than the law allows.
Falling asleep at the wheel might not draw the same amount of public outrage as drunk driving, but the outcome of either type of accident can be the same. Innocent people can get killed. Sleepy drivers make a choice to keep driving, even when they know they are too tired to drive.
The consequences can be tragic. A tired trucker might not see traffic slowing down on an interstate and cause a multiple-vehicle pileup. The trucker might drift into the wrong lane and clip a motorcyclist, causing a catastrophic motorcycle accident.
There's no excuse for tired truck drivers. By law, truck drivers must take mandatory breaks and can only operate a truck for a limited amount of time each day. These state and federal laws exist precisely to prevent truck driver fatigue accidents. And yet these accidents continue to take place far too often.
Many drivers are paid per mile, which gives them an incentive to keep driving rather than stop for a coffee break or a nap. Some drivers may take drugs to stay awake, which can lead to other types of impairment. Our attorneys know how to build a strong case by thoroughly investigating a tired truck driver accident. We leave no stone unturned when determining liability.
If a fatigued truck driver caused your accident, we will fight hard to hold the responsible person or business accountable. A tired truck driver poses a risk to everyone on the road. Sleepy truckers have been responsible for deadly rear-end collisions and head-on crashes, as well as many other types of serious accidents.
We develop strong cases by:
- Interviewing witnesses
- Reviewing crash data, including the black boxes
- Checking the trucker's driving record
- Poring over police reports
- Working with top experts
Under FMCSA requirements, trucking companies and their drivers are required to keep records of how many hours each driver works each day, as well as how often they repair and maintain the truck. After an accident, it's vital to find these logbooks and make sure they are accurate or if they have been fabricated in order to hide evidence of a truck driver working more hours than allowed under the law.
What is the leading cause of truck crashes? Driver Fatigue
"What is the leading cause of truck crashes? Driver Fatigue. We all know that as drivers behind the wheel of a car we have distractions, we have family obligations that we're thinking about, we have work that we're thinking about. Those often keep our mind off the road in front of us and effect how we drive our cars. " -Gregory Coplan Esq.
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Overloaded tractor-trailer accidents
Laws exist limiting the amount of weight each truck can carry on the road. These laws are on the books in order to protect everyone on the road. The reason is because overloaded trucks are less safe than other trucks. Overloaded trucks take longer to stop, which raises the risk of a rear-end collision. They're also harder to control when taking a turn around a corner. And when they do collide with other vehicles, all that additional weight means much more serious tractor-trailer accidents involving catastrophic injuries or even a wrongful death.
Overloaded trucks involved in car accidents in Illinois must be held accountable. The truck driver and truck company made a conscious choice to ignore the laws governing truck companies. When these laws are broken, Coplan & Crane can stand up for your rights and make sure you get the compensation you rightfully deserve. We're located in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park and serve people throughout Illinois.
Dealing with truck companies can be especially complicated. Often, they're located in another state. Then, you're often forced to deal with large insurance companies and several lawyers representing the insurance provider and the truck company. All of these people are often working against you. Often, they're simply focused on one thing: paying you as little as possible for your accident.
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Driver distraction often plays a role in a truck accident. Cellphone use has become such a hazard on the roads that the federal government prohibits all commercial truck drivers from texting while driving.
A texting truck driver may cause a deadly rear-end accident. Our attorneys know how to put experience and resources to work for the victim. Tractor-trailers also often have on-board computers that trucking companies use to communicate with their truck drivers. We have seen many cases where truck drivers are trying to use their trucks' onboard computers while driving, distracting them from the road ahead.
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Speeding and poor vehicle maintenance
Speeding and poor vehicle maintenance are other common causes of tractor-trailer accidents. In both cases, such accidents could have been prevented if the driver slowed down, took the time to keep the truck well maintained, or properly inspected the truck before starting his trip.