Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

driving-1434211-639x424-300x200For many drivers, it is second nature, especially when they are on a familiar and long commute. Daydreaming or letting the mind wander when you’re behind the wheel, is a far more common activity than many of us realize. It is also extremely dangerous and can place you at high risk of being involved in a severe accident.

A new study finds that most people daydream while driving, and many don’t even realize that their mind has been wandering. Researchers put participants in driving simulation and monitored the electrical activity in their brains. The simulations were routine and were designed to mimic the participants’ commute home. Earlier studies also show that people’s minds are much more likely to wander when they are driving on a long and familiar route, than when they are on an unfamiliar route. In this particular study, the participants’ minds wandered approximately 70% of the time, while they were aware of the distraction only 65% of the time.

Such high levels of distraction can be hazardous behind the wheel, even though they do not involve the use of an electronic device. A driver doesn’t have to be sending a text or e-mail to be so distracted that you cause an accident. Being so mentally distracted that you fail to spot a vehicle entering from your right, or other such accident cues can prove equally devastating.

semi-truck-underride-300x169Two mothers of underride truck accident victims, who died when their vehicles lodged underneath the truck after a collision, are calling for safety measures to help prevent such accidents.

The threats posed by unsafe underrides do not get a lot of attention, but these cause some of the most devastating accidents involving large commercial trucks. Underride guards refer to the barriers, usually made of metal, that are affixed to the backs of a commercial 18-wheeler or large truck. These guards are in place to prevent smaller vehicles and passenger cars from sliding under the truck in the event of a collision.

In any accident involving a large commercial truck, there is a danger that the smaller car involved will skate or slip under the truck. The resulting accidents and injuries can be horrific. Underride car accidents almost always result in severe head injuries. Some of the worst accidents result in decapitations.

cloudy-1866581_640-300x200Even as many new big-rig trucks now come with safety features, factors like trucker fatigue and safety defects continue to persist, contributing to many truck accidents every year.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted a truck safety study and found that two major factors contribute to truck accidents. Safety defects in trucks and extended driver work hours continue to be contributors to many trucking accidents every year and as a result, in 2015, there were a total of 3,815 trucking accident fatalities across the United States.

In the study, researchers found that approximately 75% of the trucks that had been involved in accidents had defects that only came to light during inspections conducted after the accident had occurred. Truck defects that were serious enough to qualify as “out- of -service” violations were more than four times as likely to be involved in an accident as compared to trucks that did not contain such defects. Examples of “out- of- service” violations include malfunctioning brakes, worn-out tires, and damaged headlights.

However, all kinds of vehicle defects increase the risk of an accident but brake violations were found to be some of the most dangerous increasing tractor-trailer crash risk by as much as three times.

Toy TruckIndiana has a dismal record when it comes to trucking safety.   The state ranked as one of the top 10 for truck and bus fatalities during the 2012 – 2014 period, with 112 fatalities in 2012, 117 fatalities in 2013, increasing to a total of 129 fatalities in 2014. That makes it an average of more than 119 fatalities in large truck and bus accidents in Indiana during this period of time, and a staggering 10.3% increase over these three years.

Many truck accidents are caused by speeding truck drivers, truckers driving while fatigued, and driver distractions. As a motorist on Indiana’s roads, what can you do to stay safe when sharing the highway with these massive vehicles?

For one thing, you can become an educated and informed driver. As a motorist traveling on the highways and byways of the state, there is no excuse for you not to be aware of the various dangers that you must know of when you’re driving anywhere around a tractor-trailer or a semi-rig.

CPAPTruck drivers who fail to undergo treatment for sleep apnea, or fail to stick with their treatment regimen have a much higher risk of being involved in a truck accident.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is usually linked to obesity. Persons, who suffer from this disorder, may suffer from respiratory disturbances during sleep which leads to disturbed sleep. When a person who suffers sleep apnea is behind the wheel of a massive tractor-trailer, often weighing more than 80,000 pounds, there is a high risk of a serious accident that can result in significant injuries and fatalities.

A new study that was conducted by researchers focused on more than 1,600 truck drivers, who suffered from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleeping disorder that disrupts sleeping patterns when airways close, reducing oxygenation and REM cycle sleeping.  Over time, this disorder can lead to severe fatigue, increased high blood pressure and daytime drowsiness. In the study, truck drivers diagnosed with apnea were prescribed treatment consisting of the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine (CPAP) which keeps the airwaves open during sleep and allowing for better sleep and oxygenation. The researchers then compared the effects of this treatment on those truck drivers who did not suffer from sleep apnea.

phones and apsApp developers have been targeting trucking drivers with a number of very innovative apps that target the special concerns and needs of truck drivers. These apps have increased in popularity, but Indiana trucking accident attorneys, and even the trucking industry, believes that the use of these apps could increase the risk of distractions while driving.

A number of apps specifically targeting truckers have recently been released in the market in the past few years. One such app, The Trucker Path, is based on a Yelp-like service for truckers. The app currently boasts of more than 300,000 active users per month, and offers user reviews of truck stops and truck rest areas.  Another app called CargoMatic allows drivers to check listed local shipments as well as determine whether they have enough space in their vehicle for the shipments. Some apps allow drivers to legally skip inspection stops.

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Long Trucks

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently passed a measure that would permit longer trucks on US highways. On Capitol Hill, two Republican Senators – Richard Shelby of Alabama and Susan Collins of Maine – have launched a proposal that would increase the maximum permissible size of the trucks on our highways from the current 28 feet to 33 feet in length. These would simply be monster trucks and there are far too many risks involved in having trucks of this length on our highways.  Our lawmakers are not alone in their push, the American Trucking Associations had sought a change in the rules that would allow such longer tandem trucks on the nation’s highways.

That doesn’t mean that the action hasn’t been criticized. Several lawmakers are against any change in the rules that would not just allow trucking companies operate longer tandem trucks, but would also mandate states to allow such longer trucks to utilize their roadways. The measure would essentially preempt any state laws against such longer trucks on state highways.

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country%20road%200087.jpgA new investigation into truck tire rollover accident finds that speeding is a major contributor to rollover rates. Big rig tires are designed for a maximum speed of 75 mph. However, as the number of states across the country has moved to increase the limits for trucks on their highways, the number of rollover accidents involving these rigs has also increased.

It is only now that researchers are making the connection between the higher speed limits, allowed by certain states, and the higher risk of rollovers in these states.

In Indiana, the speed limits for trucks are 55 mph on rural interstate highways, and 55 mph on urban interstate highways. Those are reasonable speed limits, and are within the range that tires are designed for. Most tires are only equipped to handle speeds of up to 75 mph. Those designs were adequate to prevent accidents up until the middle of the last decade, when many states began increasing speed limits on trucks on their highways.
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drug%20trucker.jpgIn 2015, trucking companies in Indiana will continue to conduct random drug testing on 50% of their drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that the industry would have to continue applying the 50% random testing rate for driver drug and alcohol tests in 2015. The agency says that it has decided to maintain the 2014 requirement, based on extensive data from the motor carrier industry, drug and alcohol test surveys, and other investigations.

This is good news for Indiana motorists but disappointing to the trucking industry which had been hoping for a reduction of the random drug testing rate set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The industry had specifically been hoping for a reduction of the staggeringly low rate to a 25% sampling. Currently, a number of other transportation sectors including public transport have a 25% drug testing requirement.
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Indiana%20Winter.jpg As Indiana’s winter continues, Indiana Department of Transportation drivers will be out in full force. Winter isn’t over yet and more snow is expected in the coming weeks. Because of the falling snow and icy road conditions, you’ll see a number of plows and salt trucks out clearing the roads and doing their job.

Because of their slower speeds, motorists often assume that plows are safer than most heavy equipment. While they do not travel at excessive speeds, snow plows must conduct certain types of driving practices that may endanger other motorists. For instance, a snow plow may travel in the center of the road with large protruding blades that remove the snow. If a driver tries to pass a snow plow they may not account for the width of the blade and its position on the road. Drivers must be extremely cautious when driving near or around a plow.

If a driver finds themselves behind a snow plow, they should maintain as much distance as possible betwee0 their vehicle and the plow. Remember that snow plow operators are highly trained professionals who are working to keep you safe. Their job is to make the road convenient for you to use. A few minutes’ worth of delay is worth the wait. A dry road that is completely free of snow and ice will be much safer for all.
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