Large truck accidents are a serious concern on the roadways of America. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in approximately 342,000 police reported vehicle accidents in the United States in 2013 alone. Of those, 3,964 fatality accidents and an estimated 95,000 injury accidents involved large trucks. According to the NHTSA, approximately one person is injured or loses their life every 16 seconds in large truck related crashes. Since some fully loaded trucks weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and measure up to 75 feet in length, the outcome of truck related accidents is often tragic.
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Individuals who are involved in accidents with large trucks often suffer severe injuries, permanent disability, and even death. In addition to the significant physical injuries that accident victims often experience, individuals who have been involved in large truck accidents often suffer from lost wages, expensive medical and rehabilitation costs, and sometimes funeral expenses. Such staggering statistics and the horrifying effects related to large truck accidents are clear indications that something needs to be done. But who is to blame for the accidents in the first place?
Large Truck Accidents Caused by the Truck Driver
In some situations when a large truck is involved in an accident in the Las Vegas area, the truck driver is to blame. Factors that put the trucker at fault include:
- Driver Fatigue: Truck driver fatigue is the leading cause of large truck accidents when the trucker is at fault. The NHTSA reports that driver fatigue is responsible for approximately 30-40 percent of large truck accidents in the United States. Long distance driving for hours on end without sufficient breaks or rest can cause truck drivers to fall asleep behind the wheel, lose focus, or have slower reaction times. In some cases, the reaction time of a fatigued driver can be compared to that of a driver who is intoxicated.
- Driving Under the Influence: Truck drivers who operate their big rigs while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are often physically and mentally impaired, increasing their risk of becoming involved in an accident. In 2013, 2 percent of large truck drivers who were involved in fatal accidents had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 g/dL. or higher.
- Loads: Failing to adequately secure large or heavy loads and loading truck over capacity is a truck driver error that is responsible for numerous large truck accidents each year.
- Excessive Speed: Unreasonable deadlines and tight schedules often cause truckers to drive faster than the maximum speed limit. At just 60 mph., it takes a big rig approximately the length of a football field to stop completely, and he can expect to add approximately 100 feet for every 10 mph. more. According to federal crash statistics, at least 20 percent of accidents involving large trucks are due to excessive speeding on the part of the truck driver.
- Distracted Driving: The use of cell phones, iPods and other devices cause truck drivers to become distracted and result in tragic accidents that can easily be prevented. A federal ban on the use of cell phones by professional drivers includes both texting and talking, and is expected to save a significant amount of lives. Unfortunately, many truck drivers will not comply with the law.
Large Truck Accidents Caused by Drivers of Passenger Vehicles
Most large truck accidents are caused by drivers of smaller, passenger vehicles. Common errors that are responsible for large truck accidents in Nevada include:
- Location: Drivers of passenger vehicles often drive in the blind spots of large trucks. These are areas that are beside and at the rear or large trucks that are not visible to truck drivers sue to the massive size and length of the truck.
- Cutting Off a Large Truck: The size and weight of large trucks make them difficult to stop or maneuver quickly. When drivers of smaller vehicles change lanes abruptly, merge, or pull out in front of large trucks without leaving sufficient space, truckers often cannot avoid jack-knifing, overturning, or crashing into the other driver.
- Blocking the Roadway: Failing to move a disabled vehicle completely off the roadway or leaving a stalled vehicle on the highway and not moving it to the shoulder can leave a large truck with no place to go, causing an accident to be unavoidable.
Individuals who have been involved in a large truck accident in Nevada may be able to recover some damages and receive adequate compensation even if the accident is determined to be partly (less than 51 percent) their fault. A truck accident lawyer in Las Vegas can sometimes help victims obtain compensation for the loss of their vehicle, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. Families of victims may be able to obtain compensation for funeral expenses and lost future wages as well.