Causes of Truck Accidents in Chattanooga
Throughout Chattanooga, TN, people are frequently injured in accidents involving large commercial vehicles. These collisions typically result in significant injuries and property damages and can even lead to needless fatalities.
At The Davis Firm, LLC, our experienced Chattanooga commercial truck accident attorney has earned a reputation for fighting for the rights of injured people after serious trucking collisions. Here are some of the common causes of truck accidents that our firm investigates in the cases we handle.
Distracted driving – Whether it’s texting, talking on the phone, or just messing with radio dials, Americans are terribly distracted behind the wheel. When it comes to truck drivers, though, federal and state motor carrier regulations strictly prohibit handheld devices and texting. Sadly, truck drivers can get into bad habits, and being away from home a lot can lead to heavy cellphone use. A distracted truck driver can become a deadly hazard on a Tennessee roadway.
Fatigue or drowsy driving – Perhaps the most serious of all causes of truck accidents, a fatigued driver can drift into oncoming traffic, lose control of a large commercial vehicle, and claim innocent lives in an instant. Driver fatigue can be a chronic problem because it is largely the result of the industry practice of paying drivers by the mile. This incentivizes drivers to push themselves beyond their limits. Add to this unrealistic delivery deadlines, and you have a deadly combination.
Speeding or driving too fast for conditions – A tractor-trailer vehicle can weigh as much as 40 tons, and this is just the typical truck you frequently see on the road. This doesn’t include specially permitted vehicles that can carry more weight. Trying to stop this much weight is hard enough, even with the best air braking systems. Speeding greatly increases the stopping distance and can result in tragic collisions.
Aggressive driving – If you’ve traveled long enough, you’ve probably seen at least one case of an aggressive truck driver using a large truck to threaten, harass, or intimidate other drivers on the road. Aggressively swerving in and out of traffic and “charging” up behind others are common practices for frustrated or emotionally disturbed drivers.
Tailgating – Sometimes tailgating is just a bad habit, sometimes it’s impatience, and other times it is part of a tendency for aggressive driving. Whatever the case, much like speeding, tailgating reduces the driver’s ability to stop in time to avoid a crash.
Unsafe lane changes – Another element of aggressive driving, rapid and unsafe lane changes can also just be a bad driving behavior. Some truck drivers become overconfident in their driving skills. That may be because some truckers drive upwards of 200,000 miles per year or more. That’s a lot of miles to put in, so truck drivers can get careless with their vehicles, forgetting the limitations of these large 18-wheelers.
Driving under the influence – If you are injured by an intoxicated truck driver, you should immediately contact a truck accident attorney to get help. Major trucking companies will vigorously look for ways to limit their own liability. The sooner you take action to preserve evidence and investigate the case, the better. Even where liability seems clear, keep in mind that some insurance carriers and companies will try to find ways not to pay for the criminal conduct of their employees. This is where an attorney can be a great resource.
Unsecured cargo – Some truck drivers are responsible for loading and unloading their trucks. These are usually local route drivers and less-than-truckload (LTL) operators. But the vast majority of over-the-road (OTR) drivers do not actually load their own freight. They instead depend on lumpers (paid loaders) or warehouse companies to load, secure, and even weigh the freight that goes on the truck. When cargo is put on a truck but left unsecured, the load can shift, making it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle combination. When it comes to certain types of loads (flatbed or open), it is extremely important for a truck driver to regularly check his or her load to make sure tie-downs, tarps, and straps are in place and secure.
Improper maintenance – It’s not just drivers and companies that make mistakes. Some mechanics may cut corners to increase production. This can lead to problems like unserviceable brakes, bad steering mechanisms, and broken rear trailer tandems. Large trucking companies often have performance bonus structures that favor mechanics and teams that make repairs faster and keep trucks running. This can again create a dangerous incentive for cutting corners.
Dangerous or defective truck parts – Sometimes large manufacturing companies build insufficient or substandard truck parts. These can lead to brake failures, steering problems, and other safety hazards.
Poor weather or road conditions – While you can’t always blame the weather for injuries, sometimes it is a factor. It’s ultimately up to drivers (especially trained commercial drivers) to operate within their comfort levels for the type of weather and conditions. Still, sometimes municipalities and state entities are negligent in the way they design and maintain roadways.
Unfamiliarity with roads – Commercial drivers, by the very nature of the job, often find themselves in unfamiliar territories, driving in new towns and on new roads. This can lead to distractions from checking maps and devices, unexpected slowing or stopping, and last-minute U-turns and re-routes. All of these can present unique challenges and dangers to others on the roadway.
Talk to an Experienced Chattanooga Truck Accident Lawyer Now
Trucking accidents are very serious, and they typically lead to catastrophic injuries. Without the help of reliable Chattanooga injury attorneys who are well-versed in federal and state motor carrier regulations, you could find yourself owing tens of thousands in medical bills. You could also end up out of work, worrying about how you’ll cover your bills after a serious truck accident.
The Chattanooga injury attorneys at The Davis Firm, LLC, we understand the challenges our clients are facing. We work hard to embrace our role as trusted advisors, always looking for ways to compassionately represent injured people and their families. Our personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable when it comes to Tennessee trucking law. If you need help after a truck crash, please contact us today for a free consultation.