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Large Trucking Accidents in FloridaLarge trucks, such as Semi trucks, are often extremely massive (approximately 70 – 80 ft long and up to 80,000 lbs) while regular family cars average approximately 15 ft long and 5,000 lbs. The mammoth size of semi-trailer trucks can make them difficult to maneuver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as of 2016 approximately 10% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S were caused by large trucks (over 10,000 lbs). This number is a huge percentage considering that these trucks only account for 4% of all registered vehicles in the USA. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Florida is among the top 10 states for highest average fatal large truck and bus crashes, totaling 3,174 fatalities in 2016. Poor road conditions, brake failure, driver fatigue, etc. can only increase difficulty in operating such trucks.

Causes of Large Truck Accidents

  • Brake Failure – Brake Failure is the leading cause in trucking accidents accounting for 29% of associated factors in large truck crashed according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Poor maintenance, improper use, and inexperienced drivers are a few of the reasons why large truck brakes fail. Some drivers disconnect the front tractor brakes and use only the trailer brakes in order to save money on maintaining or replacing front brakes. Inexperienced drivers do not brake properly when driving downhill, which can sometimes cause the semi-truck brakes to overheat and fail.
  • Driver Fatigue – Due to the lack of sleep (truck drivers average less than 5 hours of sleep / night) and long work hours many drivers endure, fatigue is a real problem for truck drivers. According to the FMCSA, fatigue played a role in 13% of truck crashes nationwide. The Sleep Help Institute in their article on truck driver fatigue noted that “sleep loss impacts performance similar to alcohol” and that “performance is impaired if sleep is limited to 5 hours for more than 2 nights”.
  • Overloaded Cargo – Cargo that is too heavy for the truck can cause unnecessary burden to the engine and brakes causing increased stopping time and likelihood of truck breakdown.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Large truck drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 g/dL or higher were involved in 2% of fatal crashes (2016 stats), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Poor Maintenance of Safety Systems and Lights
  • Speeding – The FMCSA reported in their 2017 CMV Traffic Safety Fact Sheet that in 17% of truck accidents with at least one large truck occupant fatality, speed was factor.
  • Driver Inattention – The FMCSA also reported that driver distraction was a factor in 6% of fatal large truck crashes, of which 16% was related to cell or mobile phone use.
  • Blind Spots – Large trucks have blind spots on all 4 sides, with the largest blind spot on the right side.

Tips to Avoid Large Trucking Accidents

Truck Drivers

  1. Get plenty of rest
  2. Maintain the speed limit
  3. Maintain truck (brakes, lights, other safety features, etc.)
  4. Never drive under the influence (including prescription drugs)
  5. Do not overload cargo
  6. Always pay attention, do not get distracted by cell phones, talking to passengers, eating, changing the radio station, etc.
  7. Use caution when changing lanes

Other Drivers

  1. Stay out of large truck’s blind spots – If you cannot see the truck driver or his mirrors, he cannot see you!
    • Front – Avoid occupying the first 20 feet in front of the truck. Make sure you can see the entire truck in your mirrors when passing a truck.
    • Behind – Avoid occupying the 30 feet behind the truck to avoid rear-ending the slowly stopping vehicle. Follow behind a commercial truck at a distance of at least 4 seconds.
    • Left Side – Avoid occupying the lane to the left of the driver to about half of the trailer’s length.
    • Right Side – Avoid being on the right side of a large truck. Do not try to pass a large truck on the right. Truck drivers have very little visibility of the right side of their truck.
  2. Do not pass a large truck while going up or downhill. The weight of the truck causing increases and decreases in speed at these points.
  3. Use proper signals when passing a large truck. Pass on the left only maintaining a constant speed!
  4. If a truck attempts to pass you, slow down and allow the driver space to pass you, so you do not end up in their blind spot.
  5. Allow large trucks plenty of space to turn, as they often need to use more than one lane when turning
  6. Limit time near a large truck to decrease risk of an accidents
  7. Always pay attention, do not get distracted by cell phones, talking to passengers, eating, changing the radio station, etc.

If you have been injured in an accident with a large commercial truck, call the attorneys at Franco Law Group at (813) 873-0180. In large commercial truck accidents, there are several potential negligent parties (driver, employer, truck manufacturer, insurance company) etc. The attorneys at Franco Law will be able to help identify which party or parties are liable to recover the damages you deserve.

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