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Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

These days, almost everyone will have a social media account during their lifetime. Consequently, social media has found its way into almost every part of modern life, including the courtroom. This is one reason why it is extremely important to monitor your social media accounts, especially if you are involved in litigation. Our team at Garmer & Prather can guide you through every step of your personal injury case, including how to handle your social media accounts.

The expression that, once something is on the internet it is there forever and anyone can find it, holds true for litigation purposes, too. You should assume that opposing lawyers and witnesses will look for your social media profiles. You should also assume members of the jury will explore your social media accounts, too.

At times, social media can be detrimental to your case, even if it was a seemingly harmless or unrelated status update or post. Consider this: You are involved in a case and are claiming serious lower back injury from a recent automobile collision. You probably know that you should not post about the owner of the vehicle that rear-ended you. However, last weekend you posted a photo of you and some friends enjoying a hike at a local nature trail. This seemingly innocent post can be misrepresented or misinterpreted by opposing counsel or a juror. They may not know that your physical therapist encouraged you to exercise to control your pain. They may simply conclude that the injuries you claim were not realistic.

Like any other drivers here in Kentucky, truck drivers get distracted, fatigued and even impaired, but they still drive. When accidents occur, it is to these factors that you may attribute the crash.

This isn’t always the case, though. Truck drivers can do everything right behind the wheel and still cause you injury. They and others are responsible for the proper securing of their loads. If one has not properly secured a load, it can shift or even fall off the truck. In either case, you could suffer injuries because of the carelessness and negligence of someone else.

Securing a load is a top priority for everyone

No one wants to be involved in a truck accident, least of all a trucker. Unfortunately, industry demands and the pressure from employers to make deliveries on time — despite all risks — can push a truck driver to make poor decisions that put his or her life, and the lives of others, on the line.

According to data collected through 2016, the most recent year available for study, fatal accidents involving trucks are on the rise. While fatalities involving big rigs have yet to reach the level they were in 2005 (when they were at an all-time high), they’re still 29 percent higher than they were in 2009. If the trend continues, the number of fatalities may eventually exceed those 2005 levels.

Causes

If you are a Kentucky driver, you understand there are various hazards and safety threats on the road that could lead to a higher chance of an accident. From distraction to speeding, the actions of other motorists could be a direct threat on your own personal safety and well-being. One of these potential threats is a fatigued truck driver.

Truckers play a crucial role in the American economy. They transport goods across the country and make sure products get to where they need to go, but they also have the responsibility to drive safely and adhere to industry regulations. There are strict rules in place regarding how long a person can drive a truck. While many truckers and trucking companies play by the rules, some of them deliberately ignore the rules.

How serious is the problem?

It isn’t hard to understand why the drivers of passenger cars get nervous when they’re sharing the road with a big rig. The size and weight of a commercial vehicle pretty much guarantee that any accident, if it happens, will be a bad one.

Learn more about some of the top problems that lead to many truck accidents and become more conscious of your role in highway safety.

1. Maintenance issues

Tracy Morgan-the actor and comedian best known for his work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live-just about lost his life in an accident. Back in 2014, Morgan was a passenger in a limo van on the New Jersey Turnpike when a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer crashed into the van. The impact flipped the Mercedes with Morgan and five other passengers onto its side and smashed it into other vehicles. The crash involved a total of 21 people and 6 vehicles.

Even though Morgan spent two weeks in a coma after the accident and suffered a broken leg, nose, ribs and a traumatic brain injury, he fared better than his friend, James McNair, who died in the impact. It’s only been recently that Morgan has been able to return to performing.

Driver fatigue was the cause

On Dec. 12, two U.S. senators introduced a bill that would require all tractor-trailer trucks to have side and front crash guards. Safety experts say that the proposed legislation would make roads safer in Kentucky and across the country.

Federal statistics show that over 200 Americans are killed in side underride collisions with trucks each year. In this type of accident, a passenger vehicle slides beneath the side of a truck’s trailer. When this occurs, the top of the passenger vehicle can be ripped off, killing the people inside. The National Transportation Safety Board says that side guards would prevent many underride accidents, but the trucking industry has resisted calls to install the safety devices.

To address the issue, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017. If the bill passes, it will make side guards mandatory on all trucks. Safety advocates claim that the legislation is necessary because the trucking industry refuses to voluntarily install the safety devices. Meanwhile, those who oppose the bill claim that side guards are too costly and could add too much weight to trucks. Rear guards have been required on tractor-trailers since 1998.

Every day in Kentucky, passenger vehicles and large commercial trucks share the roads. The sheer size and weight of large trucks present significant dangers to smaller vehicles. However, drivers can apply strategies that will improve safety.

Drivers need to recognize that tractor-trailers require very long stopping distances. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. These trucks require about 550 feet to come to a stop when traveling at 55 mph. By comparison, a small passenger car only needs 178 feet to stop when moving at 70 mph. For this reason, people should not position themselves immediately in front of trucks. Space is also needed when merging. Drivers should accelerate ahead of an approaching truck to merge.

Maintaining a position next to a truck should be avoided as well. Many blind spots inhibit a trucker’s ability to see other cars, and a crash could happen if the truck needs to change lanes and does not see the car on its left or right. Drivers should pass to the left because the trucker has a better ability to see traffic on the left. Tailgating places drivers in danger of underride accidents, which kill about 200 people annually. To limit this hazard, motorists should maintain safe following distances or pass when possible.

A 2017 study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the safety benefits provided by the installation of side underride guards on semi trucks are similar to those provided by the installation of rear-mounted guards. Lawmakers have announced they intend to introduce a bill to require tractor-trailers to be equipped with side underride guards in an effort to improve roadway safety in Kentucky and across the country.

American Trucking Association has stated that side guards may improve safety, but it was not certain that a legislative mandate was required. According to the ATA, the installation of side guards may cause trailers to deteriorate more quickly, perhaps creating safety risks due to potential failure of a trailer on the road. The ATA said active safety systems, which prevent motor vehicle accidents from occurring, may make more sense than passive systems like side underride guards.

Research by the IIHS indicates that side underride guards may reduce injury risk in side-trailer accidents by approximately 75 percent. In its report, IIHS claimed that side-trailer crashes resulted in 301 fatalities during the period studied.

As affordable housing grows more remote from metropolitan areas, and as the number of workers increases, a corresponding increase in commuting times can be seen. This is true in Kentucky and throughout the United States. Long commuting times have an especially negative impact on commercial truck drivers as they give drivers less time for rest and put them at risk for health conditions like heart disease.

For example, a study analyzing 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties found that drivers with long commutes tend to be overweight, less physically fit and more likely to have high blood pressure. Lack of sleep also leads to fatigued truckers, which can endanger those they share the road with.

As a result, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has stated that it will conduct a survey to gather data about commercial truckers who commute: how many of these drivers commute to work, how far they travel, what time zones they cross and how they feel at the end of the day. The FMCSA is also inquiring into commuting policies among motor carriers.

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