Truck drivers, their employers, and other members of the industry have strict rules and regulations to follow in order to keep the roads safe. When they’re negligent, their violations lead to avoidable catastrophic injuries and deaths. In fact, Florida is among the top 10 states with the most fatal truck accidents. Since several parties are involved in getting a truck from point A to point B, it’s hard to know whether to go after the driver, the truck company, or a third party to recover your damages. Considering the common commercial trucking violations can give you an idea of who is responsible for your accident.
Commercial Trucking Regulation Violations
Working Extended Hours
Drivers have to adhere to hours-of-service regulations. The regulations outline how long they can drive as well as minimums for their break times and number of days off. An employer may pressure a driver to violate these rules – the faster a job is done, the more profitable their operation is. Alternatively, drivers may try to skip the required breaks or time off to get back to their families faster or to make more money. Tired truck drivers have slower reaction times and they’re more likely to make mistakes. They may even fall asleep behind the wheel. When an exhausted truck driver gets into an accident, a commercial truck attorney is helpful with investigating the reasons why the driver was overworked.
Drivers keep a breakdown of their working hours in a logbook. They record the hours they drive, stops they make, and the breaks they take. These self-documented records are easy to manipulate if an overworked driver collides with your car. Fortunately, there is often a more reliable account of the driver’s and truck’s activity. Most commercial trucks have been required to have Electronic Logging Devices since 2017. Truck companies and their insurance providers aren’t eager to share ELD records, but your attorney can fight to have this evidence released.
Any driver who violates traffic laws can cause an accident. However, traffic violations are especially risky for truck drivers. For instance, commercial trucks take 40% longer to come to a stop. Truck drivers who speed don’t have as much time to adjust to changes in traffic, and they can wipe out numerous cars in one go.
Excessively angry drivers get into twice as many car accidents. The driver of a standard vehicle might only affect one lane or one other driver when cutting someone off. A truck driver, on the other hand, is maneuvering 20,000 to 80,000 pounds. When a truck swerves into another lane, it’s more likely to become unstable and turn over into the path of multiple lanes. Even if a truck hits only one car, the force of its weight means the injuries will more than likely be devastating.
Distracted driving is one form of carelessness that truck drivers succumb to. Careless truck drivers might eat while driving or check their cell phones. They can forget to use their signals and neglect to check their blind spots, which is where a third of their crashes with cars happen.
Drugs and Alcohol
Most Florida drivers are prohibited from driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. For commercial truck drivers, that limit is .04. That means just one or two drinks at a stop can compromise their control over a truck. Additionally, stimulants are popular among drivers. These drugs help them to stay awake over long stretches of time. But awake does not mean alert. Abusing stimulants can make users jittery, impulsive, and aggressive.
Truck companies are responsible for making sure their drivers are properly trained and licensed. For instance, a driver with a Class C license cannot drive a truck of more than 26,000 pounds. An employer that allows an untrained or undertrained driver on the road can be held liable for an accident. Your attorney is instrumental in discovering the company’s hiring records, the driver’s credentials, and the specifications of the truck involved. These factors will help to show the truck company’s negligence.
Unrealistic Expectations of Drivers
Employers sometimes offer drivers incentives for meeting unreasonable deadlines. This encourages drivers to skip breaks, speed, and violate other traffic laws in hopes of making more money.
Improper Vehicle Maintenance
Frequently, the company that performs maintenance on a truck is a third party. When a mechanical failure leads to an accident, the maintenance company may be to blame. They may have failed to do a thorough inspection, or perhaps they incorrectly replaced a part. It’s also possible that the truck company itself delayed required maintenance to expedite deliveries. Maintenance records are one of the many documents your attorney can evaluate to pursue compensation from the right party.
There are federal regulations that limit how much weight trucks can carry. These limits vary based on a truck’s size. When trucks are overloaded, the excess weight strains the truck’s parts, including the engine, brakes, and tires. Consequently, these parts can fail unexpectedly well before their time. Additionally, drivers are more likely to lose control of an overloaded truck. Heavy cargo makes it more difficult to come to a stop, moderate speed, and maneuver.
Cargo also needs to be proportionally loaded within a truck. When negligent loaders don’t secure cargo, unsecured cargo shifts in transits and causes an imbalance. The uneven distribution of weight means a truck is more likely to tip over, swerve into other lanes, or go off road.
Contact a Florida Truck Accident Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, the attorneys of Jones Law Group can help you to recover maximum compensation. Our experienced attorneys know the ins and outs of the trucking industry. We’ll explore all possible contributors to your accident so that each liable party is held financially accountable. For a free initial consultation, call us at 727-571-1333 or contact us online.