Truck crashes are one of the most devastating types of automobile accidents that can happen in terms of both material damage and emotional trauma. The sheer size of trucks — roughly 70 to 80 feet long and maxing out at 80,000 pounds — means that in the event of an accident, the damages will be severe and the risk of fatalities increased.
Even more unsettling is the fact that a large majority of these truck crashes could be avoided. In its most recent report, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles found that nearly 83 percent of all truck crashes in 2014 (the most recent year for available data) were due to human error.
To give a better idea of what this human error looks like and how it causes truck accidents, NYS DMV’s report breaks down some of the specific reasons for crashes, as well as how frequently they happen:
“Driver inattention/distraction” is the number one cause of truck accidents, leading to 18.4 percent of crashes. This is not terribly surprising, considering the long hours truck drivers must spend on the road by themselves and the risks of fatigue and substance abuse involved. Hours of Service regulations are supposed to stipulate how long truckers can work for any given period of time and when they are supposed to take breaks. However, even when a truck driver is within their Hours of Service, the long days can result in sleep deprivation and exhaustion, putting them at high risk for errors and accidents.
In the NYS DMV report, “following too closely” comes next on the list of truck accident causes, at 15 percent, trailed by “failure to yield right-of-way,” at 10.9 percent. “Unsafe lane changing” and “passing or improper lane use” round out the top reasons, at 10.5 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the largest number of fatalities in truck crashes is caused by driving at unsafe speeds (17 percent) and a failure to keep right (12 percent).
Damages from truck accidents can include those to personal property (e.g., the car and anything inside it), physical injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Truck accidents can also be extremely complex when it comes to filing a claim for negligence against the truck driver, the trucking company, or another third party, such as an equipment manufacturer. Your surest route towards compensation for damages is to work with an experienced truck accident attorney that understands the many nuances of this particular area of personal injury law.