If you are like most people who live and drive in Kentucky, you see your fair share of tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks on the road. From time to time, you might even see one of these trucks swerve or make some type of maneuver that makes you wonder if the driver inside is fatigued or otherwise distracted. These are legitimate concerns as they directly relate to your safety when sharing the road with big rigs.
You can find wet roads, construction zones and gravel roadways throughout Kentucky. Although accidents can happen to anyone under these circumstances, when it involves large trucks driving too fast for the given conditions, it is reckless.
Earlier this year, the Kentucky legislature enacted sweeping changes to the workers’ compensation system through House Bill 2. The goal was to bring the existing statutes up to date, as there have been few changes in the last two decades. At Debra L. Broz, Attorneys at Law, PLC, we understand that benefits received from workers’ compensation can make a huge difference in your daily life.
Big rigs, semitrucks, tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers: Whatever name is used, they can be found any time of the day and night, barreling down Kentucky roadways. In high winds, the trailers often sway, and they are so much larger than light trucks and cars on the road, many people try to avoid driving near them. A report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that fatalities involving large trucks increased by 3 percent between 2015 and 2016.
Commercial vehicles in Tennessee are much larger than the average sedan or family minivan. As a result, trucking accidents often cause severe injuries and fatalities. A 2017 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study shows that more than 400,000 auto accidents on America’s roads involved commercial trucks. In addition to upholding safety regulations, installing advanced safety equipment can reduce the number of crashes significantly.
Trucker fatigue is one of the most common causes of crashes involving semi-trucks on Kentucky highways today. However, that fatigue is not always a direct result of not getting enough sleep. The Congressional Research Service reports that numerous truck crashes have been found to have been a result of sleep apnea. Truck drivers who suffer from sleep apnea can get a full night’s sleep, but still feel exhausted throughout the day.
Accidents involving large trucks are often devastating, but some of the most tragic here in Kentucky are those where the smaller vehicle slides under the trailer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash test video of a midsize sedan in a collision with the side of a tractor-trailer shows the top of the car being sheared off, along with the headrests of the front seats. Because the front of the car never meets with resistance, none of the vehicle's safety mechanisms such as the crumple zone and airbags are able to work.
Whether a truck is traveling at high speeds or a trucker gets behind the wheel even though they are too fatigued or intoxicated to drive safely, large truck wrecks have many causes. That said, things can go wrong even when truck drivers and all other drivers around them are driving responsibly. For example, slick roads due to freezing rain or ice can lead to a collision when drivers lose control.
Large truck collisions often lead to devastating consequences, such as permanent disabilities that leave victims with an inability to work and severe emotional distress. Tragically, they also cause victims to pass away far too often in Kentucky and across the U.S. Those who are required to operate a bus or a large truck should understand the potential risks they face every time they get behind the wheel and the serious consequences associated with a crash. Sadly, these accidents will continue to happen due to truck driver fatigue, intoxication, and a host of other problems.
Any time a driver gets behind the wheel, they face the risk of a collision. Having said that, there are certain times when the chances of a crash occurring may be even higher. For example, a driver might be even more likely to collide with another vehicle when they are driving a moving truck for the first time because they are not very familiar with how to safely operate the larger vehicle. Moreover, drivers may have more difficulty avoiding hazards on the road when they are driving a moving truck for the first time, such as someone who is swerving between lanes due to intoxication.