Have you experienced significant injuries from a truck accident? Unfortunately, truck accidents are more common than many people think. Fatigue, lack of maintenance, and distracted driving can all lead to catastrophic accidents that alter the course of victims’ lives forever.
Understanding the common causes of truck accidents in California is a proactive step drivers can take to prevent future accidents. Learn prevalent causes and prevention tips below, then call the truck accident lawyers at Khalil Law Group for a truck accident consultation.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in California
Trucks are highly complex vehicles with many moving parts that must work together at all times to operate as intended. When truck parts malfunction or truck drivers make mistakes, devastating accidents can occur.
Some of the prevailing causes of truck accidents in California include the following:
Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their trucks regularly to ensure that all mechanical parts are working as they should. But some drivers neglect maintenance in the interest of time.
When trucking companies fail to maintain their trucks, they experience mechanical issues like:
- Brake failure
- Transmission failure
- Malfunctioning headlights
- Faulty windshield wipers
- Rear-guard failure
- Steering failure
- Unsafe cargo tie-downs
All of these issues can impact a driver’s ability to operate a truck safely and increase the risk of accidents.
Truck drivers spend entire days on the road to stay on schedule and meet their companies’ demands. When drivers go for prolonged periods without rest, they become fatigued, limiting their ability to pay attention to their surroundings while driving.
The California Highway Patrol outlines safety regulations for commercial vehicles that dictate the maximum amount of time truck drivers can be on duty and driving. Commercial drivers may only be on duty for a maximum of 14 hours during interstate driving and a maximum of 12 hours for intrastate driving.
Truckers should only drive for 11 hours of a 14-hour duty period, while they may drive the entire 12 hours of an intrastate driving period.
Twelve hours is still a significant amount of time to be behind the wheel without a break. Truck drivers have a responsibility to stay alert and awake during their shifts, but when they become excessively tired, they may make dangerous mistakes that put other drivers at risk.
Lack of Training
At a minimum, truck drivers must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a commercial truck. But trucking companies have a duty to provide additional training to ensure that new truck drivers have the proper skills to operate their giant trucks safely.
Some truck companies skimp on training to save time and money. When they experience severe trucker shortages that put their company reputations on the line, they may permit new drivers to begin long-haul trips with just a CDL.
Without the proper training, truck drivers may not know how to avoid common causes of truck accidents.
Spending 12 hours on the road each day can be boring, and many truck drivers distract themselves with music, podcasts, phone calls, and conversations on the CB radio. While these activities are not inherently dangerous, when truckers let their minds wander off, they may not see hazards in the roadway or have the necessary reaction time to respond to impending accidents.
Sometimes, bored truckers may participate in unsafe activities while driving, such as texting, scrolling through social media, or even watching videos. These activities are against the law and could cost a driver their job. Unfortunately, they can also lead to tragic accidents.
Loss of Balance
Standard commercial trucks measure 72 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.5 feet tall. This width-to-height ratio can allow top-heavy trucks to lose their center of gravity and roll over, causing catastrophic accidents.
Rollovers are more likely to occur when truck drivers are speeding, navigating turns unsafely, or following traffic too closely, causing them to brake quickly.
Unsafe Lane Changing
Trucks have several blind spots: directly behind the cab, in front of the cab, and below each side mirror. When drivers change lanes quickly, they sometimes miss smaller vehicles in these blind spots, causing collisions.
Trucks are also much longer than passenger vehicles and require ample space to merge and change lanes. During the congested rush hours in Orange County, truck drivers may attempt to fit into a lane opening that is smaller than their truck’s length in hopes that the rear driver will make room for them. These attempts are not always successful, leading to accidents.
Trucks experience tire blowouts for a few reasons:
- The driver did not inflate the tires properly.
- An overloaded trailer places too much strain on the tires.
- The tires are old, and the driver failed to replace them.
- The truck uses the wrong type of tires for its weight capacity.
Tire blowouts can cause trucks to lose their balance, and truckers may overcompensate for this change by swerving and losing control of their vehicles.
Tips to Prevent Truck Accidents
While you can’t control a trucker’s actions or whether a commercial truck has undergone the proper maintenance, you can take a few measures to protect yourself against truck accidents:
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spot whenever possible.
- Give trucks room to merge or change lanes if it is safe to do so.
- Avoid following trucks too closely in case tire blowouts or other malfunctions occur.
- Use caution if a truck is turning into the adjacent lane. Trucks require more space for turns, and you may need to back up to allow more room if no one is behind you.
- Pass trucks quickly and avoid lingering between two commercial trucks.
- Be predictable when driving near trucks — use your turn signals when turning or changing lanes.
Are You a Victim of a Truck Accident?
Whether your accident resulted from one of the common causes of truck accidents or another event, you may be able to hold the at-fault party financially liable. Qualified truck accident attorneys in Newport Beach can assist you; contact Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 to schedule your consultation.