Truck Drivers Who Speed: A Major Cause of Fatalities in Truck Accidents
It is never safe to speed, but a truck driver who speeds can be veering beyond negligence into irresponsible recklessness. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck accidents resulted in 3,903 fatalities and 111,000 injuries in 2014, with approximately 73 percent of the victims being occupants of passenger vehicles. In 16 percent of the fatal crashes, the truck driver had at least one prior conviction for a speeding violation, suggesting that he could have been speeding in this deadly crash as well. Speeding is a huge factor that almost always magnifies the seriousness of a truck accident and causes many victims to suffer catastrophic injuries or death.
Common Causes of Accidents When Truckers Speed
When negligent truckers drive too fast, they can cause more catastrophic injuries than in other types of crashes, especially on highways. This is because of the force of the impact—already incredibly powerful given a truck’s 80,000-pound weight—is even greater due to the truck’s increased speed. Common ways speeding causes these tragic and preventable wrecks include:
- Inability to stop. Trucks already need more time to slow down and stop than passenger vehicles. When truck drivers speed, they may have insufficient time to respond when traffic around them slows or the driver in front of them must suddenly reduce his speed or stop.
- Weather conditions. Often it is unsafe to drive the posted speed limit when poor weather—such as fog, snow, heavy rain, and ice—make the roads slippery and visibility poor. A truck driver who does not reduce his speed for these conditions can slide into a vehicle in front of or around his truck, sometimes causing a multi-vehicle pileup or an underride or override crash trapping a car under the truck.
- Blind spots. Truck drivers have large blind spots on the sides, in front of, and behind their trucks. When truck drivers speed, they can easily lose sight of other drivers in these blind spots or only realize they are there when it is too late to get out of the way.
- Curves. Even speeding motorists of passenger vehicles can lose control of their vehicles on curves. This risk is amplified for truck drivers, who can easily cause a jackknife accident where their tractor-trailers suddenly swing into multiple lanes of traffic.
- Loads. Loads that are being transported can shift, especially if they are not loaded or secured properly. If the truck driver is also speeding, he may find that he cannot safely maneuver his truck.
- Hydroplane. When a speeding truck is driving on wet or slick roads, the tires can lose traction, and the truck can hydroplane and slide uncontrollably on the road—often into other vehicles.
- Loss of control. Truckers who speed are more likely to lose control of their truck, resulting in devastating jackknife or rollover crashes.
Why it Is Important to Contact an Attorney Immediately If You Believe a Truck Driver’s Speeding Caused Your Accident
It is always best in any type of traffic accident to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after it occurs. He can investigate your accident, help you preserve vital evidence, and negotiate your settlement for you. However, this is even more vital in a truck accident where you suspect the trucker was speeding.
Many trucks are equipped with recorders that record the truck’s speed while on the road. Some trucks also have black boxes similar to those that are on airplanes that contains many types of helpful information, including communications between the truck and the trucking company of the truck’s speed at the time of the crash. However, these black box recordings—also known as event data recorders—are taped over every 30 days or less.
To avoid losing this important data, you need an attorney to quickly send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising the company of your claim and instructing them not to destroy the black box recordings and other documents crucial to your case. Your attorney can also arrange for the proper download of this information or to have an expert watch over the downloading process. This will prevent the trucking company from “accidentally losing” the data while retrieving it.
If you were injured in an accident with a speeding trucker, review our testimonials to see how we have helped other clients like you. Then call our office to schedule your free case evaluation.