In a recent news story published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, local law enforcement reported a hit-and-run accident involving a tractor trailer. A 50-year-old man was sleeping under the truck when the driver started the truck and drove over him, resulting in his death. Officials were uncertain at first if the trucker might have been able to run over the man without knowing, but shortly afterward the fatality was attributed to driver negligence. The reason for the determination was unknown.

Negligent driving behaviors can have fatal outcomes

Negligent driving involves either doing something that should not be done, or failing to do something that should be done. To prevent negligence and avoid harm for anyone on the road, the law requires that drivers follow safe practices, including the following:

  • Displaying reasonably careful behavior
  • Driving at a speed that reflects road conditions
  • Maintaining the vehicle; performing mechanical service as needed
  • Maintaining control of the vehicle while driving it
  • Not driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Many driver behaviors directly violate these requirements and fall under the description of negligence, such as using a handheld device while driving, following too closely behind another vehicle or driving while fatigued. Drivers of tractor-trailers are required to check around their big rigs, including beneath, before getting in and driving. The purpose is to verify that there are no safety concerns, but such a search might also reveal whether there is a person or animal under the truck. Negligent behaviors can have devastating consequences in a passenger vehicle, but large trucks are particularly dangerous because of their size and weight. They often weigh around 80,000 pounds, and in addition to their overall height, they have a much higher ground clearance. This creates a greater possibility that a smaller vehicle or object may be crushed by the trailer wheels, and increases the likelihood of a fatal accident.

Penalties have not reduced the number of truck accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds commercial vehicle operators to higher standards and imposes stiffer penalties for truck driver negligence because of the greater risks. Serious infractions, such as reckless driving, driving more than 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or failing to display a reasonable amount of care lead to a suspension of the commercial driver’s license. A second offense within a three year period results in the loss of the license. In spite of these penalties, injury and fatality crashes involving large trucks are on the rise. Tractor trailer accidents increased more than 10 percent from 2009 to 2012, injuries rose by 43 percent, and fatalities by 16 percent. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation’s statistics, there were 1,463 crashes involving large trucks in 2010 alone. It is unknown how many of those accidents involved truck driver negligence. Medical bills, permanent disabilities and fatalities are often the result of tractor trailer crashes. Any individual who is injured by a commercial vehicle should seek legal representation from a Nevada personal injury attorney to ensure that full compensation is received.