There are many reasons that commercial vehicles collide with passenger vehicles. Sometimes, a commercial driver misjudges how much space they have to complete a turn at a tight intersection. Other times, drivers on the interstate get far too close to a semi-truck’s trailer, which leads to an incident when a trucker attempts to merge or turn.
Failure to notice hazards and making the wrong decision given the circumstances of the moment are leading causes of commercial crashes. Sometimes, those failures are the direct result of trucker fatigue. Those who feel exhausted have a hard time making good decisions and paying attention. They can even fall asleep at the wheel. Despite the known risks of fatigue on driver performance, it is still a very common practice for truck drivers to be at the wheel for the maximum amount of time possible during any given shift.
Truck drivers often have very unforgiving schedules
Technically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has numerous rules intended to reduce the likelihood of a commercial vehicle crash. The Hours of Service rules are limitations on how long someone can operate a commercial vehicle.
The rules are slightly different depending on whether the vehicle transports humans or cargo, but in both cases, there are limits on daily driving time and how many hours someone can work in seven or eight consecutive days.
Unfortunately, the schedules maintained by commercial transportation companies rarely account for factors like heavy traffic, bad weather and a crash that shuts down the freeway. Any of these factors might force a truck driver to remain on the road for much longer than they intended to reach their destination. Those fatigued and overworked truck drivers could then make mistakes or lose consciousness while driving, potentially causing a tragic collision.
People have rights when trucks cause crashes
Just like with smaller passenger vehicles, large commercial trucks have to carry liability insurance. Bigger and heavier trucks and those carrying hazardous materials typically carry far more coverage than the average passenger vehicle.
Those who have been harmed by a truck driven by someone who was too fatigued to stay safe may have grounds for an insurance claim or possibly even a lawsuit against the driver and/or the transportation company that employs them. Learning more about the factors that contribute to the worst semi-truck crashes on modern roads can inspire drivers to make decisions that may improve their chances of safely reaching their destination. Doing so can also help accident victims to approach their legal options in truly informed ways.