Truck accidents are a serious public health risk to Virginia drivers. Large, heavy vehicles have more momentum in a collision, and are therefore more likely to cause injuries or death than a smaller, lighter passenger vehicle. If you or a loved one has been injured in a road collision, you need an experienced Roanoke truck accident attorney to protect your legal rights.
CNBC reports that fatal truck crashes have been on the rise since 2009. Truck driving is also a dangerous job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2015, more than 25% of all workplace fatalities in America occurred in the trucking industry.There are, of course, many reasons for this disturbing trend, but ultimately, the fact remains that thousands of Americans are killed in truck accidents every year.
How A Trucking Company Can Be Legally Responsible For Causing a Truck Accident
Legal responsibility (“liability”) for a truck accident can fall to either driver. Trucking companies can also be found liable for causing a truck accident when their conduct resulted in an unsafe situation on the road. For example: because truck drivers are often paid by the mile, not by the hour, they are forced to choose between productivity and safety. Trucking companies which encourage drivers to push themselves to drive unsafe hours - or simply do not discourage it - can be liable for accident caused by tired truck drivers.
A common problem in the trucking industry is a high turnover rate. Long hours, low pay and tough working conditions have caused turnover among truck drivers to remain near 100%. This means that truck drivers on the roadway are almost always inexperienced. The turnover rate among truck drivers also means that trucking companies do not always thoroughly screen for problem drivers - especially those with a history of trucking and traffic violations. Accidents caused by drivers who are inexperienced or have poor driving histories can also bring liability to the transit companies that hire them.
How Virginia Drivers Can Avoid Truck Accidents
- Slow down! V.A. Code Section 46.2-870 outlines Virginia speed limits. Large trucks maneuver more slowly than small vehicles, and they cannot quickly respond to cars that weave around them or make sudden movements. Speed should also be reduced any time that visibility is reduced at night, due to weather, or other circumstances.
- Make sure you are visible to any truck drivers nearby. Large vehicles have large blind spots, and this can make it difficult for a truck driver to avoid collision with smaller vehicles nearby. Use your horn and lights as necessary to increase visibility. Do not stay in a blind spot for too long – speed up or slow down to get out of the blind spot and remind the truck river that you are still nearby.
- Allow extra space between your vehicle and any large vehicle nearby. Large, heavy vehicles require greater stopping distance, and an unexpected obstacle in the road can be disastrous for a vehicle following a truck too closely.
- Pay careful attention to the cargo hold of nearby trucks. Liquid cargo creates a sloshing effect, which can both propel the vehicle forward and cause the tank to sway across the road. Wind, slick roadways, and other weather conditions can also make it difficult for a truck driver to maintain control of his or her vehicle.
- Watch for trucks in construction zones. Trucks are typically found on shoulders, in medians, and other unexpected places in and around construction zones.