According to the NYC Department of Transportation, New York City has “one of the most complex truck route systems in the nation,” which may help explain the more than 10,000 New York City truck accidents that occur in a given year, including dozens of cases of wrongful death in addition to the thousands of personal injuries which result.
Giants of the Road
Call them big rigs, semi-trucks, or tractor-trailers, large trucks are truly giants on the road compared to even the largest passenger vehicles, such as pickup trucks, vans and SUVs. The very size and weight of these behemoths contribute to the danger they pose on the roadway. Because they are larger and heavier than other vehicles, trucks need increased stopping distance between themselves and the next vehicle, as well as increased reaction time to make critical decisions or respond to an emergency. These factors are not always fully appreciated by inexperienced truck drivers, or by other drivers sharing the road, who may cut in front of trucks or make other poor decisions. Trucks also have significant blind spots not only immediately behind them but also for several feet in either adjacent lane and even directly in front of them. Other drivers, as well, will have a limited field of vision and less awareness of traffic conditions, as much of their site may be blocked by the truck in front of them or to the side.
Truck Driver Error
Most truck accidents are due to truck driver error, most often attributed to fatigue. Truckers endure long hours behind the wheel and are often under pressure to deliver their loads as quickly as possible. This may lead drivers to drive longer than they should, more aggressively or recklessly than is called for, and sometimes under the influence of stimulants to stay awake, which can affect judgment. Regulations passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limit how many hours a driver may be behind the wheel, yet even these regulations allow for 14 hour workdays including 11 hours of driving time, with workweeks extending for seven or even eight days before any significant time off is required. Also, a horde of exceptions and exemptions in the regulations mean that many truckers are not even covered by these rules at all.
Other Causes of Truck Accidents
FMCSA regulations also require that certain safety equipment be located on the truck, and that trucks are routinely inspected and maintained. However, proper maintenance and inspection may be ignored, leading to a mechanical failure at a critical moment. An inspection of log books required by the FMCSA can be helpful in determining whether the driver and trucking company were operating in compliance with the law prior to an accident, yet these log books are sometimes doctored after the fact and must be carefully examined.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation regarding your personal injury claim.