Year in year out, Florida remains a consistent contributor to truck accident fatalities in the United States. Compared to commercial truck accidents in other states like Texas and California, Florida’s semi-truck accident rate is higher than the national average.
Every 16 minutes in the United States, a person dies in a collision with a large truck. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 2017 report, nearly 32,000 accidents involved truck drivers. Out of that number, there were 27 fatalities, 57 incapacitating injuries, and 1,053 people who suffered other injuries. The most affected people in trucking accidents are passenger vehicle occupants. This is because trucks are 20-30 times more giant in size than smaller cars. They also have undercarriage clearance, meaning smaller vehicles can get trapped underneath.
Nearly one in ten vehicle fatalities are the result of a collision with a commercial truck. Tractor trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and the average motorist’s vehicle will weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
Statistics regarding truck accidents in 2014 across the nation include:
3,660 people were killed in a collision with a large truck; while only 16 percent of those fatalities were occupants of the truck, 68 percent were passenger car vehicles, and 15 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians.
The number of those killed in an 18-wheeler crash was 16 percent higher in 2014 than in 2009.
Of those who died in a large truck collision in 2014, 59 percent were on a major road other than a freeway or interstate, 31 percent were on a freeway or interstate, and 9 percent were on minor roads.
The hours between 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. are the deadliest, as far as large truck collisions go, as 47 percent of large truck crash deaths occur during this time period.
Sixteen percent of large truck collisions occur on a Saturday or Sunday.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Florida
Trucking accidents are like passenger vehicle accidents in that there are many different causes of the accidents. Some factors, however, are more specific to truck accidents than to passenger vehicle accidents, including the following:
- Distracted driving. Truckers spend most of their lives on the road. In order to keep to their deadlines, many are forced to eat, drink, and perform other tasks while driving if they want to stay on schedule. Unfortunately, multitasking diverts the driver’s attention from his surroundings, placing others at risk. Some of the biggest distractions include talking on a cellphone, texting, checking social media, or even watching videos. Accidents caused by these factors continue to be a problem, even through most distracting activities are illegal under federal trucking regulations.
- Poor truck maintenance. Trucking companies are responsible for sending their drivers out with fully-functioning rigs, and drivers are required by law to make safety inspections on their vehicles before each journey. In spite of these regulations, many trucks on U.S. roadways have bald tires, poor electrical systems, and inadequate brakes, in addition to other components that can suffer sudden failure.
- Impaired drivers. Many truck drivers use stimulants to stay awake, and may also rely on prescription painkillers and other medications to continue to earn a living. According to the FMCSA, as many as 44 percent of truck drivers who were involved in an accident were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Overloaded trailers. Although there are strict regulations on how much cargo a truck can carry, some companies purposely overload vehicles in order to make fewer trips. Overloading greatly affects the balance of a vehicle, compromising a driver’s ability to turn or stop suddenly.
- Fatigued driving. Long hours behind the wheel can easily make a driver tired, slowing his reflexes and lengthening response time. Truckers were so likely to fall asleep at the wheel that federal laws were enacted to ensure truck drivers take regular rest breaks. Although truckers are forbidden to skip their mandatory driving breaks, many will drive through their rest periods or cut their sleep time short in order to make faster deliveries. Drivers are often paid premiums to make their deliveries quickly, and choosing profit over safety puts both the trucker and other drivers at risk. Fatigued driving is impaired driving!
- Reckless driving. Truckers who adhere to strict rest break requirements may feel they have no other choice but to make up time in other ways, such as running red lights or speeding. Truck drivers who are under pressure to make deliveries as fast as possible may become stressed or angry at the drivers around them, prompting reckless driving maneuvers such as tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, and failing to yield to cars that are merging on and off of highways. Twenty-three percent of truck drivers were found to be exceeding the speed limit at the time of their accident.
- Aggressive driving. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as a combination of moving traffic offenses which endanger others. Commercial truck drivers who drive in an aggressive manner on the roadways are almost three times more likely to be involved in one or more traffic crashes than those who drive while fatigued.
- Blind Spots—Cars traveling directly in front or behind, or those approximately in the middle on either side may not be seen by the truck driver. In these cases, the truck driver may change lanes, stop suddenly or accelerate, without being aware of the vehicle the truck is about to hit.
Thankfully the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets forth strict guidelines, which must be adhered to by drivers and the trucking companies.
Who Is Liable in a Florida Truck Accident?
Depending on each case’s circumstances, different people can be liable for damages following a truck accident in Florida. The list of potential defendants is as follows:
- Truck driver
- Truck owner
- Truck company
- Shipper or cargo owner
- Auto part manufacturers
- Drivers and other involved third parties
To determine responsibility, the police and insurance company adjusters carry out a detailed investigation of the crash scene. Commercial truck companies depend on their insurers to settle victims. Drivers will also pay from their insurance coverage or out-of-pocket if they don’t have one. Remember that you shouldn’t accept blame following a crash, and consult ALVAREZ GOWER INJURY LAW truck accident attorneys immediately! We understand that a truck accident can jeopardize not only your health but your general wellbeing. It would be best if you did not suffer because of another person’s carelessness. Thus, you deserve the best representation and the maximum settlement.
We will thoroughly investigate the accident, gather evidence, eyewitness statements, and expert opinion. We will also handle all the communication with your insurance company and represent you during all negotiations. Furthermore, we believe in getting you the justice you deserve and will review your case without a consultation fee. Contact us today to get started.