Danger on our Highways

4 Tell Tale Signs of Trouble

Every day millions of Americans drive to work, most people for almost half an hour, and for the vast majority of us, that means driving past, around, but hopefully not under, semi trailers. According to a recent National Highway Transport Safety Administration study, there are approximately 2 million semi trailers on the roads today. These steel behemoths can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded and , consequentially, be quite difficult to handle.

Fortunately for us, truck drivers are usually highly professional and technically proficient drivers who carry many certifications and are safe drivers. However, a growing cadre of the profession, perhaps fueled by fantastical shows like “Ice Road Truckers” or perhaps just fueled by too much coffee and not enough rest, are causing an increasing number of accidents each year. The NHTSA’s data from 2013 indicated that semi-trailers were responsible for or involved in just under 4,000 deaths in that year alone. The 2013 data is the latest available regarding semi-related fatalities (they’re still compiling the data from 2014), but that number continues the trend of a marked increase in the number of such fatalities.

There are many theories on the cause of this increase, but driver fatigue, increased congestion, and infrastructure depreciation are generally accepted as the leading sources of trouble. As it goes, the United States infrastructure is ageing rapidly, especially in places of high use like the northeast and Florida. In these congested zones of high-use, the structure of many roadways is crumbling, causing potholes, loose pavement, and even bridge collapse, which all contribute to create unsafe conditions and traffic jams.

An unfortunate corollary to these contributing factors is that these regions often have some of the heaviest concentrations of semi trailers in the world. Increasing time restrictions combined with of an ever-more demanding job may mean more truck drivers are severely fatigued behind the wheel when they’re entering the most dangerous roadway conditions. Despite attempts to legislate mandatory rest periods for truck drivers and imposing harsh fatigue laws on their employers, the industry is still plagued by a system of pressure and coercion to “get it there fast”, which may lead to dangerous levels of fatigue.

So how can you avoid injury or death? The indicators of fatigue in other drivers are similar to those for drunk driving. Here are some important warning signs to be on the lookout for:

  • Weaving or sudden stops and starts
  • Driving without lights on during rain or at night
  • Excessive or severely reduced speed
  • Failure to signal or yield

If you notice a truck exhibiting any of these behaviors, it’s probably a good idea to avoid getting near  the truck and to take steps to increase the distance between you and the cars around you so you have space to maneuver in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, many of these accidents occur when defensive driving techniques like the ones listed above are impossible and a collision is unavoidable. That’s why it’s always important to wear your seatbelt and to drive at speeds that are safe for the conditions present; doing-so may save your life. If an accident does occur, call emergency services and try to get out of the way of traffic as deadly pile-up collisions in the wake of a semi-truck accident are a common occurrence on the highway.  The Ruth Law Team has extensive experience helping victims of large truck accidents. We’ve helped many victims get both the financial and physical recovery they deserved. If you have questions or concerns about protecting your rights following an accident with injury, please know you can call and speak with one of our attorneys any time, and it’s always free.

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