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Common Driver Errors That Contribute To Trucking Accidents

Colliding with a commercial truck is traumatizing at the very least. Those who are lucky enough to survive accidents with large trucks often suffer not only serious physical injuries, but also psychological trauma that may make it difficult for them to drive again following the accident. One of the most common causes of trucking accidents is driver error. If you're the victim of the accident, it's important that you and your lawyer take the conduct of the driver into account when considering making a personal injury claim. If it can be proven that the driver made a mistake that led to the accident, you should not have a difficult time winning your case.

There are hundreds of possible technical errors a driver of a commercial truck can make, from failing to signal when changing lanes to running a red light. Obviously, if the driver made a technical driving error such as this, you should point this out to police investigators and to your lawyer. Some driver errors, however, are less obvious, but should be considered in any investigation of a trucking accident. These include:

Drug Use or Abuse

Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is certainly a driver error. However, commercial truck drivers are not allowed to drive under the influence of even legal drugs that have been shown to impair the ability to operate a motor vehicle. Even drugs like diphenhydramine (a common antihistamine) and some cough syrups may impair a driver's ability on the road. Recent investigations have also found a high prevalence of cocaine and amphetamine use among truck drivers. They take these drugs because they help them stay awake, but the side effects are hallucinations and changes in perception -- side effects that don't make for safe driving.

If the investigators have reason to believe drugs or alcohol contributed to an accident with a truck, the driver will likely be tested. The results of these tests, if positive, can help you win a civil case against the driver or the trucking company.

Distractions Such as Computers and Smartphones

There are television systems made specifically for semi trucks. They're designed to be used when the truck is parked, but some systems do operate while the truck is moving if the driver disables a "safe mode." Watching television while driving is certainly not a safe idea, and if the driver who hit you was doing so, you stand a good chance of winning your case. Texting and talking on the phone without a hands-free headset are also illegal in most states, which means the driver can be held liable if his or her phone served as a distraction that contributed to the collision.

Driver Fatigue

If you've ever taken a long road trip, you know how tired you can become after a long, 8-10 hour drive. Federal laws state that drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours if carrying property, but not passengers. Drivers transporting passengers may only drive for 10 hours after an 8-hour period off duty. If the driver is found to have exceeded these legal limits, your lawyer should have an easy time arguing that fatigue contributed to the accident. Even if the driver is within the limits, if you can prove that the driver fell asleep or did not react properly because of fatigue, you have a good case.

Sometimes, trucking companies require their drivers to drive for longer than is legally allowed, and simply have them forge logs of their driving time to make it appear that they are adhering to these rules. If the driver who hits you argues that this is the case, the trucking company, rather than the driver, may end up being named in your civil case.

Accidents involving trucks are often serious, due to the sheer size of these vehicles. If you've been in an accident with a truck that you believe was caused by driver error, contact a trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible. By bringing your case to court, you're not only ensuring that your damages are covered, but also setting a precedent for other drivers and trucking companies and hopefully encouraging them to drive more carefully to avoid lawsuits.