Collisions with large trucks often lead to tragic consequences

Earlier this year, a Georgia teenager took time to reflect on the life-changing consequences of a New Jersey Turnpike accident that occurred one year before. In an interview with Cross Road News, the teen related how she and her family were on their way back home when, in the vicinity of Mount Laurel, they were involved in a truck accident. A tractor-trailer suddenly rear-ended the family's Toyota Camry triggering a multi-vehicle collision. The teen's father, mother and brother were pronounced dead at the scene. As the sole survivor pulled from that crash, the young woman draws strength from memories of her family but remains haunted by the accident.

Since New Jersey is a major freight corridor between New York City and Philadelphia, there are numerous trucks upon our roads. Tractor-trailers on major highways such as Interstate 80 and the New Jersey Turnpike weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. NBC 10 in Philadelphia reported that, when the tractor-trailer rear-ended the Georgia family's Camry, the Camry was "crushed" after being struck from behind and then pushed into a second tractor-trailer. If you survive such a horrendous collision, your injuries could be serious.

According to a Virginia Tech study, collisions between heavy trucks and passenger cars are a major concern because of the severity of injuries incurred by those involved in such an accident. Another study discussed in Science Daily shows that there is a direct relationship between the number of trucks on a given highway and the severity of personal injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes on that highway. Moreover, if there is a high volume of truck traffic on a road, a greater risk of fatal injuries is presented.

Truck safety concerns

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that, in collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles, the vast majority of deaths occur to occupants of the passenger vehicles. The Institute points out that truck driver fatigue, caused by driving too many hours without rest, presents a well-known risk of truck accidents. Truckers' long work hours tend to cause sleep deprivation and fatigue.

The Insurance Institute observes that truck drivers behind the wheel for more than eight hours are twice as likely to crash. Federal regulations, known as "hours of service" rules, are designed to keep truck drivers from driving too many consecutive hours without rest. Unfortunately, these regulations are sometimes violated by motor carriers. Insurance Institute researchers have found that truck drivers who have report violations of hours-of-service regulations are more likely to report to have fallen asleep behind the wheel during the past 30 days.

Truck accidents are often caused by poorly maintained trucks. The Insurance Institute states that tractor-trailers with defective equipment were twice as likely to be involved in crashes as trucks without defects. Braking failures were the most common equipment failure. Fifty-six percent of tractor-trailer crashes involved brake defects. Steering equipment defects were involved in approximately 21 percent of crash-involved trucks. One study noted by the Insurance Institute found that, after post-crash examination, 55 percent of the trucks had at least one equipment violation while 30 percent had a condition serious enough to warrant having the vehicle taken off the road.

Seeking compensation for injuries

Trucking accidents can be caused by driver negligence or because the motor carrier failed to maintain the truck in a roadworthy condition. If you have sustained injuries due to a truck collision, or if a loved one has been injured or killed in such an accident, contact an attorney immediately. The attorney can offer advice and guidance on how to seek compensation from those responsible for causing the accident.