Few accident situations require such agile and immediate action as the car-truck accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, a total of 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016. Seventeen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 66 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 16 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. The number of people who died in large truck crashes was 27 percent higher in 2016 than in 2009, when it was the lowest it has been since the collection of fatal crash data began in 1975. The number of truck occupants who died was 47 percent higher than in 2009. The main reason for this fact is that the trucking industry or commercial motor vehicles are ruled by regulations different from those applied to motor vehicles. Before mentioning some tips to consider in case of car-truck accident, it is important to define important terms.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), created in January 2000, is an independent organization of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The main objective of this organization is to reduce accidents on the roads involving long trucks and buses. The FMCSA offers guidance through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). It is mandatory that motor carrier operators and drivers know and comply with all applicable FMCSR (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 2009).
A commercial motor vehicle is any motor vehicle used on an interstate highway for commercial purposes to transport passengers or property. Another feature is a gross or combined vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or more. Vehicles used to transport more than eight passengers commercially (49 C.F.R. § 390.3, 2017) can also be considered a commercial motor vehicle.
Call Your Lawyer.
In a car-truck crash situation, evidence is a priority. Data from the engine control, distinctive tire markings at the accident scene, and even the records of the transport company must be quickly obtained by your lawyer before they are destroyed. It is important to mention that most trucks are equipped with systems that report collisions automatically. Defense lawyers have quick access to the vehicles’ information, officers, and witnesses. Unlike motor vehicle accidents, truck collision cases are immediately defended after an accident.
Know the Regulations.
Motor carriers are highly regulated entities subject to standards that apply only to the road transportation industry. The FMCSR includes the applicable safety standards of the road transport industry for drivers and motor carriers. It is important to know the rules and regulations that can be useful in different situations.
Motor Carrier Information.
A driver must have a commercial driver’s license to legally operate one of these vehicles. The FMCSR also defines smaller vehicles with a combined gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more as commercial motor vehicles if used for commercial purposes.
Learn About Insurance Coverage.
The FMCSR only requires that interstate carriers maintain a minimum of $ 750,000 in insurance coverage with a minimum of $5 million required for carriers of hazardous materials. The provision of minimum coverage has not increased since it was approved in 1981 and, as a result, many motor carriers today do not have sufficient insurance. If the tractor and trailer are owned separately, it is likely that a separate insurance policy covers the trailer.
Associated Truck Accident Factors.
Hundreds of associated factors were collected in a FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study for each vehicle in each crash. In descending order, the top 10 factors coded for large truck accidents are:
1. Brake problems
2. Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
3. Prescription drug use
4. Traveling too fast for conditions
5. Unfamiliarity with roadway
6. Roadway problems
7. Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
8. Over-the-counter drug use
9. Inadequate surveillance
Avoid Collisions with Trucks.
In an ABC News article, AAA reported in their Car-Truck Study, that car drivers were at fault more often due to five actions that accounted for about 65 percent of unsafe driving situations, the actions were:
1. Failure to stay in your lane and attempting to drive around trucks the same way they drive around cars.
2. Not yielding right of way
4. Violating signs and signals
5. Driver inattention
The AAA study states that drivers lack proper education about driving with big rigs.
Like with cars, AAA warns of a truck’s blind spots, the areas on both sides of a truck where the driver cannot see other vehicles in his rear-view mirrors. So when passing a truck drivers should never “hang around” the truck.
Drivers also need to understand that trucks cannot move like cars. A truck is less maneuverable. It doesn’t stop as quickly, and therefore drivers need to give that truck more room and more margin for error when driving around the vehicle.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.
Fried, J. A. (2018, February). 8 Tips for trucking cases. Trial: American Association for Justice, 22-27.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. (2009). A motor’s carrier guide to improving highway safety. U.S. Department of Transportation. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/carrier-safety/motor-carriers-guide-improving-highway-safety
Cornell Law School – https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/390.3
AAA Study: Car-Truck Study – https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130212&page=1