Managing a Head-On Collision With a Large Truck

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By Craig Aronow, Esq.

Truck drivers are responsible for moving approximately 72000 of our country’s freight. With an estimated 37.9 million trucks on the road, there are plenty of opportunities for potentially fatal head-on collisions involving large trucks. These accidents can be caused by a number of factors.

Truck Driver Fatigue

On average, truck drivers drive 107,000 miles per week and work about 60 hours. They are typically under strict deadlines to deliver products, and they often operate under stressful conditions.

Many truck drivers on the road today suffer from fatigue, and they sometimes fall asleep behind the wheel. Many truck drivers simply do not get enough sleep at night, or they drive too many hours in a day. Rather than sleeping in a hotel and getting a full eight hours of rest, some drivers sleep in their trucks, so their quality of sleep can be compromised. Sleep deprivation can cause truck drivers to veer out of their lane and into oncoming traffic causing an accident. Crashes like these with smaller vehicles can be serious considering the considerable size difference.

Unsafe Driving Conditions

Operating a large commercial truck in bad weather conditions when visibility is compromised can result in a deadly accident. Because of imposed deadlines, truck drivers often feel pressure to continue driving in order to meet their obligations. In a recent study, 24000 of surveyed truck drivers admitted they have continued to drive in unsafe driving conditions likely to meet deadlines.

Lack of Training

To become a truck driver, there is no requirement to first spend a set amount of time behind the wheel. In most other professions, there is a requirement of time logged in on-the-job training where you get real-world experience before you are allowed to practice on your own. Pilots are required to log training time in the air before they can fly alone. A hairstylist is required to have a minimum hourly requirement of training before they can obtain a license to cut hair. However, a truck driver can operate up to an 80,000-pound vehicle with no hourly training requirement.

In addition, truck drivers are not required to prove they have the ability to drive in mountainous areas or under heavy traffic situations before they are allowed to operate a truck. Obviously, this is an area of concern in the trucking industry that should be addressed. A poorly trained or inexperienced truck driver could easily cause an accident that could have serious consequences.

Distracted Driving

Maintaining focus while operating a commercial truck is paramount in practicing truck driver safety. However, it is easy for a truck driver to become distracted while driving for the simple reason they drive so many hours during the day.

It is not always convenient for a truck driver to pull over every time they want to eat or drink something or when they need to make phone calls to handle business affairs or communicate with family. Eating, drinking, and phone use are leading causes of driver distraction and can be the responsible factor in causing a head-on collision with a smaller vehicle.

Accident Prevention

While you can’t control the actions of truck drivers you share the road with every day, you can implement driving practices that could help to prevent an accident. These simple techniques could help to save your life and those who are riding with you.

Pay Attention to Your Position

Larger trucks have to have more room to operate on the road than smaller vehicles do. Therefore, it is easier for a truck to veer into your lane. Keeping your vehicle closer to the right side of the road when meeting a truck gives the larger vehicle more room to maneuver and can prevent a head-on collision.

Be Aware and Prepared

Being constantly aware of your surroundings at all times while driving can be highly effective in accident prevention. This means that you should never be the distracted driver. Using your phone in any way, eating, drinking, or driving while sleepy can greatly impact your ability to remain focused. Being aware of what is happening around you while driving can help you to be prepared when a truck driver makes a mistake that could cause an accident. Being aware means you can be prepared to react in a way that prevents an accident.

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Head-On Collision With a Large Truck

Sometimes, even if you practice awareness and preparedness, you can’t prevent every accident. If you ever find yourself involved in a head-on collision with a large truck, there are a few things you can do to help mediate the situation and protect your rights as the victim of an accident.

Call for Help Immediately

Getting police and emergency health care workers on the scene of the accident as soon as possible is the most important duty following a head-on collision with a large truck. It is likely there will be injuries that would need quick attention, and having police there to document the accident will be important in filing insurance claims or potential lawsuits.

Document the Events of the Accident

As much as you are able, make note of the events that caused the accident, specifically the actions of the truck driver. You should also take pictures of the accident and the position of the vehicles after the crash occurred. This will help to provide accurate information to the insurance company as well as to the police. Documented information will also come in handy should the accident settlement go to court.

Get in Touch With Insurance

As soon as you are able to do so, it is important to contact your insurance company. If the accident is the fault of the truck driver, their insurance should be responsible for covering the damage to your vehicle and paying for your medical injuries. However, it is important to make your own insurance company aware there has been an accident in case they need to get involved on your behalf in the insurance settlement.

An Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyer Can Help

Typically, an accident with a commercial truck will involve not only the truck driver but also its employer. This complicates the insurance claim because it could be unclear as to whom the claim should be filed against. An experienced trucking accident lawyer can help to navigate the complex process of filing a proper claim and taking the necessary steps to make sure you are fully compensated for the accident. It is possible you could suffer medical injuries that would require years of treatment and could cause loss of wages. The attorney will work hard to make sure your medical bills are covered, and you and your family are financially taken care of.

At RAM Law, we have extensive experience with trucking accidents and would like to discuss your situation with you. If you or someone you love has been injured in a New Jersey trucking accident, fill out our secure online contact form or give our New Brunswick or Somerville offices a call today at 732-394-1549 to schedule an appointment.

Contact Our Office

To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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