What can Truck Companies Do to Prevent Truck Accidents?

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According to the Department of Labor (DOL), driving a truck is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. In addition to the challenges of operating a massive 80,000-pound commercial truck, truck drivers are under a great deal of pressure to meet very tight deadlines when delivering goods. Oftentimes, that means driving through the night, often on very little sleep. Although hours of service (HOS) regulations were put in place to prevent drowsy driving among truck drivers, many truck drivers find ways to work around these regulations so that they can meet their delivery deadlines.

Drowsy driving is just one aspect of the job that makes driving a truck so dangerous and increases the risk of devastating truck accidents. Fortunately, there are steps that truck companies can take to improve safety for truck drivers and the other motorists who are sharing the road. Victims are urged to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer for assistance.

What are the Top Causes of Truck Accidents?

According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the following are the most common causes of truck driver accidents:

  • Brake problems
  • Drowsy driving
  • Driving too fast for the road conditions
  • Prescription drug use
  • Interruptions in traffic flow
  • Roadway problems
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway
  • Over-the-counter drug use
  • Inadequate surveillance

What are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?

Truck accidents cause some of the most devastating injuries and fatalities because of the massive size and weight of the average commercial truck. When a passenger vehicle is involved in a truck accident, the occupants of the passenger vehicle often suffer a range of serious injuries, including the following:

  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Burns

What Types of Damages can I Receive in a Truck Accident?

Owing to the severity of the average truck accident and the nature of the injuries, truck accident victims may be eligible for the following types of damages if negligence was involved:

Economic damages: These are the actual financial losses that the victims suffered, which can be easily calculated.

  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
  • Childcare expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Other expenses related to the accident

Non-economic damages: These are meant to compensate the victim for the intangible losses that the truck accident caused.

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive damages: These are rare, but they are designed to punish someone if their behavior was considered particularly egregious. For example, if a motorist was seriously injured in a truck accident, and the truck driver was severely intoxicated or was showing signs of road rage, the victim may seek punitive damages.

What are the Most Effective Tips for Improving Safety?

In addition to protecting truck drivers’ health and making the roads safer for other motorists who are driving in the vicinity of a large commercial truck, the following safety tips can also reduce the costs associated with devastating truck accidents, including costly claim payouts and increases in insurance claims:

  • Provide thorough orientation sessions for all drivers: This should include face-to-face time between the new driver and other experienced drivers, associates, and other departments. In addition, all new drivers should participate in a ride-along period so that he or she can get accustomed to the truck, the equipment, and the dispatch system. The orientation process is important because it encourages open communication between the driver and the truck company.
  • Encourage truckers to practice defensive driving: Defensive drivers are always aware of potential hazards or changes in driving conditions. As a result, they are better able to react quickly and avoid a dangerous situation. The following are examples of defensive driving techniques:
    – Be aware of blind spots: Commercial trucks have large blind spots. When changing lanes, truck drivers are urged to look over their shoulders and out the window in case a motorist is in his or her blind spot. In addition, truck drivers should leave plenty of room when merging.
    – Practice the three-second rule: This states that a truck driver should allow three seconds to pass from the time the vehicle is front passes an object to the time the truck passes that same object. In inclement weather the following distance should increase to five seconds when it is raining, and 10 seconds if the roads are icy.
    – Be prepared for emergencies: Truck drivers should be prepared for a range of emergencies, including bad driving conditions, breakdowns, and accidents. Emergency kits should be kept in the truck at all times and should include bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, first aid kit, a change of clothes, and a flashlight with extra batteries.
    – Stay calm: The best things to do if a truck driver is cut off, honked at, or harassed is to remain calm and focus on the road ahead. Road rage can lead to serious accidents, but they are avoidable if drivers can stay calm and collected.
    – Be sure to signal: When there are no other vehicles on the road or a truck driver is traveling during a non-peak time, it may be tempting to change lanes without signaling. However, signaling is required by law, regardless of how many motorists are on the road. Truck drivers should get into the habit of always signally, no matter what.
    – Slow down: When road conditions are not ideal, owing to weather, traffic, or poor visibility, the best thing to do is slow down. This will allow the truck driver to take the appropriate corrective action or respond to a sudden change in road conditions. In addition, if an accident happens, the slower speed may decrease the severity of the accident.
  • Prevent distracted driving: The truck company is encouraged to create a culture that makes safety a top priority, which includes strict rules against using the phone to talk or text while driving. Holding staff meetings that discuss important safety issues and installing onboard cameras are just two examples of how to promote a culture that prioritizes safety.
  • Make sure that the truck is well maintained: Trucks and trailers that are properly maintained are less likely to break down or cause accidents. Truck drivers and trucking companies should follow a preventative maintenance schedule for all trucks. If repairs need to be made, the truck should be kept off the road until the necessary repairs have been made.
  • Provide truck driver’s schedules in advance: This allows drivers to plan ahead and make any modifications to their schedule if necessary. Truck drivers will be less stressed, which means they are less likely to become distracted or drowsy.
  • Monitor truck drivers’ performance: The electronic logging device (ELD) prevents truck drivers from exceeding the HOS regulations. In addition, driving speed, braking pressure, and other driving actions can be recorded and analyzed to ensure that drivers are not engaging in unsafe driving behavior. Truck companies can act on this information, such as taking the driver off the road for a specified period.
  • Use GPS tracking to monitor the fleet: GPS tracking allows the truck company to know the exact location of their drivers at all times. If a truck breaks down, the truck company can send help to the location quickly. This also reduces the amount of down time that truck drivers spend waiting on the side of the road.
  • Encourage drivers to take rest breaks when necessary: In addition to the mandatory HOS regulations, drivers should be encouraged to take additional breaks when they start to feel drowsy, even if it requires them to take time out of their on-duty period. This will keep truck drivers safe, protect other motorists on the road, and reduce costs associated with serious truck accidents.
  • Incentivize drivers by creating rewards programs: Truck drivers who regularly embody good driving habits and make safety a priority should be recognized and rewarded. One way to do this is through a coaching and rewards program. Dashcams can provide actual footage of what safe, responsible driving looks like. Rather than incentivize drivers for the number of miles driven, companies should reward them for taking a break if they are drowsy or for pulling over during bad weather.
  • Establish drug testing programs: All new hires should be screened for drugs, and existing drivers should be tested at least once a year. Truck drivers who need support or who voluntarily seek treatment should not be penalized or stigmatized for getting the treatment they need, even if that means taking time away from their job to enter a treatment program.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Devastating Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and hold them liable for your injuries. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.