Fatal accidents involving large truck drivers have risen nationwide since 2009. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nearly 4,500 fatalities occurred in accidents involving large trucks in 2016. In 2009, the fatality figure was approximately 3,500. Because of the increase, people in California and elsewhere are looking into the causes of these crashes.
Most of the common causes of fatalities relate to operator negligence in one form or another, with driver error being the most common. Though driver error as a cause of a fatality is less for truckers than passenger vehicle drivers, the percentage remains high. In this category, driver error can include texting while driving, operating under the influence or driving while fatigued. Complete elimination of this type of conduct may not occur but it can be greatly reduced.
Another common cause of truck crashes is mechanical failure. Mechanical failures can happen, but many are due to poor maintenance. Trucks are routinely inspected more often than a typical passenger vehicle, but the operator bears the ultimate responsibility to ensure that all mechanical aspects are in proper working order.
Other collisions are caused by bad weather. The braking distance of a large truck far exceeds that of a passenger vehicle. Wet or icy conditions can increase the stopping distance even more. However, all drivers have an affirmative duty to drive in a manner consummate with weather conditions.
Truck drivers have the same general standard of reasonable care when operating their vehicles. But they must adhere to strict regulations concerning the maximum hours they can drive, weight limits and vehicle inspections. A lawyer familiar with these rules could help a truck accident victim fight for a fair settlement.