Two tractor-trailer accidents occurred in Sebastian last month adding to a troubling trend. Tractor-trailer accidents are occurring at a clip almost three times the rate of all other accidents.
On July 12, a tractor-trailer overturned on U.S. 1 after drifting onto the raised, concrete median near Barber Street in Sebastian. The accident knocked down a light pole and caused significant traffic delays as workers cleaned debris and unloaded the truck’s cargo.
Then, on July 21, a tractor-trailer jackknifed on the southbound lanes of I-95 in Sebastian, colliding with another tractor-trailer and a pick-up truck. The three-vehicle crash closed southbound lanes for more than two hours because the crew had to clean up the wreckage and strewn contents of the first tractor-trailer.
These accidents are part of a growing increase in tractor-trailer accidents nationwide. Every 15 minutes, there is an accident involving a tractor-trailer in the United States and tractor-trailer fatalities are the highest they have been in 29 years, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.
What’s behind the rising rate of tractor-trailer accidents?
Tractor-trailer fatalities rose 9 percent to 4,761, an increase of 392 lives lost over the prior year. About 1,300 of the fatalities were truckers. The remaining 72 percent occurred in the other vehicles involved in the collision.
Accidents involving tractor-trailers tend to be more severe than car-on-car wrecks. Tractor-trailers are heavier vehicles, capable of carrying up to 80,000 pounds of cargo, and when they collide with standard passenger vehicles that weigh between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds, the impact can be catastrophic.
Reasons for the tractor-trailer accident increase
The NHTSA attributes the surge in semi-truck accident rates and fatalities to several factors:
- Increase in the number of commercial trucks on the nation’s roadways
- Growing demand for next-day and same-day shipping for consumers
- Drivers spending long hours on the road
- Drivers engaging in distracted driving
With freight on the nation’s roadways at an all-time high, the potential for crashes and injuries increases. Distracted driving is also largely to blame.
Distracted driving and tractor-trailer accidents
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published the results of its latest survey on the nation’s attitude towards certain driving behaviors, such as texting while driving. The survey found that more than half of all licensed drivers report driving distracted within the last 30 days—a number that keeps climbing despite 95% of all survey participants acknowledging the danger of driving distracted.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has reported that truckers who text while driving are about four times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who refrain from distracted driving.
Since 2012, the FMCSA has prohibited the use of handheld cell phones for truck drivers while moving. The laws state:
- Drivers can’t hold, dial, or reach for hand-held cell phones while operating their vehicle.
- Drivers are permitted to use a cell phone after pulling their trucks to the side of the road.
- Drivers are permitted to use hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth earpieces.
- Drivers face up to a $2,750 fine for each offense. States will suspend a driver’s CDL (commercial driver’s license) after two or more serious traffic violations.
Avoid being a victim of tractor-trailer accidents
To better protect yourself from tractor-trailer accidents, remember these tips the next time you approach a truck on the highway:
- Slow down when approaching tractor-trailers and give them plenty of space.
Large trucks cannot react as nimbly as regular passenger vehicles. Do not tailgate them or hover on their sides, which can also be their blind spots.
- Don’t slam on your brakes when tractor-trailers are behind you.
Large trucks cannot stop as quickly as regular passenger vehicles. Give them time to stop safely.
- Don’t drive distracted and be aware of your surroundings.
Distracted driving is an issue for all drivers. Set your phone down and use handless systems to make phone calls.
What to do if you’ve been in a tractor-trailer accident on the Treasure Coast
Accidents involving tractor-trailers are serious and complex. If you’ve been injured as a result of the negligence of a truck driver, contact the Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd. Led by Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Steve Hoskins, our personal injury department specializes in litigating and settling automobile accidents involving tractor-trailers, box trucks, and delivery vans. We have the expertise, experience, and resources to successfully take serious accident cases to trial, ensuring our clients and their families have the closure and financial security they need for a better future.
For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at 866-460-1990.