New York’s roads and highways see more traffic than in many other areas of the country. Our ports and railways also mean that we see more trucks than many other cities do. Whether you call them big rigs, 18-wheelers or tractor-trailers, America loves its trucks.
Most truck drivers operate their rigs safely, and the vast majority of trucks on the road are well maintained and in top-notch condition. NHTSA regulations help to ensure that drivers are rested and that trucking companies follow safety procedures for their fleets.
However, there are exceptions, and some trucks and drivers may pass inspections when perhaps they shouldn’t. What many people don’t realize is that drivers of passenger vehicles cause some truck accidents. Unfortunately, truck accidents often involve multiple vehicles—particularly on the congested highways of New York.
Trucking Accidents Caused by Motorists
If you’re like most people, you may think most trucking accidents are caused by driver error. While this is true, it isn’t always the driver of the truck who makes the mistake. In some cases, motorists in passenger vehicles cause a crash with a big rig. Often, this negligence is a result of driver ignorance.
Automobile drivers commonly commit unsafe acts in the vicinity of a tractor-trailer, usually because they’re unfamiliar with the performance capabilities of these large trucks. Such acts include:
- Driving between two big rigs
- Unsafe passing
- Driving in the truck driver’s blind spot
- Failing to pull a disabled vehicle fully off the highway and onto the shoulder
- Moving to the right of a truck when it’s signaling to make a right turn
Commercial Drivers Causing Truck Accidents
In some instances, driver error on the part of the truck’s operator can cause a truck accident. A moment of poor judgment can result in grievous injury to the truck driver or to occupants of other vehicles. Truck drivers are frequently travelling on roads they’re unfamiliar with. This can increase the likelihood of a crash, particularly at night.
Other factors that can cause a truck driver to crash include:
- Driver fatigue
- Influence of alcohol, prescription drugs or illicit substances
- Speeding or driving too fast for road conditions
- Distractions such as mobile device use or reading a map while driving
- Poor weather conditions
In some cases, particularly with commercial fleets, inadequate training can be to blame for a driver’s error. When poor training or unsafe policies results in a truck accident, the company may be liable for damages. These factors may include:
- Insufficient training on safety concerns and defensive driving techniques
- Unrealistic schedules that encourage faster speeds and longer hours between rest periods than would be advisable
- Compensation systems that encourage speeding or excessively long hours of operation without breaks
Poor Truck Maintenance
The trucks themselves—or the people responsible for their maintenance—may be to blame for some trucking crashes. An improperly distributed load can make a trailer unstable and prone to rollover or other mishap. When truck owners don’t sufficiently inspect and maintain their equipment, they could be liable for damages in the event of a crash.
Some examples of poor truck maintenance include:
- Worn tires
- Worn or malfunctioning brakes
- Malfunctioning running lights, brake lights or turn signals
- Improper trailer attachment
Truck Accidents and the Law
Federal laws and regulations govern the trucking industry. When a trucking company or operator violates these regulations and causes an accident, injured victims may have a strong claim for damages. If you’re injured by a big rig, working with an experienced trucking accident attorney can help you determine whose negligence caused your crash. You shouldn’t have to worry about how you’ll pay your medical bills and other expenses while you recover from your injuries. The law can help victims of unsafe trucking practices.