Common Causes of California Trucking Accidents
Federal and state regulations are often ignored
Truck drivers have many obligations to fulfill. They must follow California state and federal regulations governing many issues ranging from their driving to safe cargo loading. Truck drivers must also obtain a special driver’s license that allows them to operate commercial vehicles. Despite these measures truck accidents still occur on our roadways, often resulting in serious or fatal injuries.
A number of factors can contribute to a collision with an 18-wheeler. Among them are the following:
- Speeding—Driving above the legal, posted speed limits, especially in poor weather conditions, can cause a truck driver to loss control of the vehicle.
- Driver fatigue—By federal law, truck drivers must rest for eight hours after driving for ten hours. Unfortunately, in an effort to meet deadlines, truck drivers often log far more hours than legally allowed without stopping to rest.
- Poorly maintained vehicles—Federal law also dictates regular inspection and proper maintenance of trucks. History shows that many trucking accidents are caused by the truck driver and the trucking company when they neglect proper maintenance. This results in unsafe vehicles traveling the roadways, presenting serious danger to themselves and those around them.
- Distracted driving—Distracted driving has grown as a contributing cause in recent years, despite state and federal laws. The most grievous hazard is handheld cell phone use which often involves texting, making phone calls, or using GPS applications. In addition, eating and drinking in the vehicle or adjusting dashboard systems also cause truck drivers to take their eyes off the road. It just takes an instant of inattention for an accident to happen.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—If a truck driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a truck driver may face criminal charges as well as civil charges. The blood alcohol content level of the operator of a truck need only measure .04 percent or above to qualify as driving under the influence—half the level required of most drivers.
- Vehicle defects—Some trucking accidents occur because the vehicle’s parts are found to be defective. These parts could include braking systems or tires. Their inability to function properly could cause a truck to jack-knife, veer out of control, or overturn, thereby creating the conditions for impact with other vehicles. As truck accident attorneys, we hold the manufacturers of these parts accountable for the defects that caused harm to others.
- Improper cargo loading—An unbalanced or improperly secured load may cause a truck to jack-knife or overturn. In addition, cargo may shift, forcing debris onto the road as an obstruction for other vehicles.
- Poor road conditions—Faced with limited visibility caused by road construction, road obstructions, and weather conditions, a truck driver may need to maneuver quickly. This is a difficult task with a typical, 80,000-pound tractor-trailer.