When I drive down I-25 on my way home from work, one of my least favorite things to see is a semi-truck cruising down the road in the left lane. While most truckers are just people trying to make a living for themselves like the rest of us, they have a job that has terrible consequences when things go wrong. While a semi-truck accident is not always the fault of the semi, when it is, there are some common reasons why:
When any driver fails to follow the posted speed limit, an accident can happen. But speeding is even more dangerous for semi-trucks because they are so large and heavy. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Because of the weight, semi-trucks cannot stop as quickly as cars, and speeding just means it takes them even longer to stop.
If you have ever taken a long road trip, you know how mentally and physically tired you are at the end of the day. It is harder for you to concentrate and continue driving safely. While laws and regulations help make semi-truck drivers safer by limiting the distance and time they can drive, that only does so much. A driver may disregard those rules, or become exhausted even before those limits are reached. Either way, an exhausted driver in a vehicle that large is dangerous.
It is unsafe for anyone to consume too much alcohol or drugs (whether legal or illegal) and then drive. This is especially true for semi-truck drivers. Because of this, semi-truck drivers have a lower limit for intoxication than other drivers to protect the public from an intoxicated driver behind the wheel of an enormous vehicle.
Substance abuse is a significant problem for semi-trucks. Many drivers use various substances to fight exhaustion in order to drive further and for longer. Drug use on top of exhaustion does not make other drivers, or the semi-truck driver safer. Rather it increases the risk because a driver will not necessarily recognize the exhaustion because of the effects of some drugs.
Most trucking companies require that the equipment is regularly inspected to prevent faulty equipment from driving on the road. Despite that, all of us have seen tire treads from semi-trucks littering the freeways. Correct maintenance will generally increase safety on the road, but if a trucking company does not properly maintain its equipment, it may be liable for an accident that occurs because of faulty equipment.
Most of the 80,000 pounds a semi-truck may be hauling is in the trailer. If loader puts the load in unevenly or otherwise doesn’t distribute the weight properly, it can be impossible for the driver to control the truck. This is especially dangerous in a state like Colorado where we have many winding mountain roads, and the potential for very high winds. Either of these, combined with an improperly balanced load, can cause a semi-truck to wander from its lane or even tip over.
If you are hurt in an accident involving a semi-truck, make sure you find a lawyer you can trust to help you figure out your options and protect your rights.