Being involved in a head-on collision with an 80,000 pound or heavier truck can be a terrifying experience—more so if the vehicles are traveling at a high speed on a busy city roadway or highway. Even if the passenger vehicle airbags deploy, these accidents can cause more devastating injuries and deaths than other types of accidents due to the sheer weight of the truck in comparison to a passenger vehicle and how little protection motorists have between the truck’s front end and themselves. Sometimes the impact can be so severe that the automobile becomes entangled with the big-rig’s undercarriage in an override or underride accident. If you were injured in one of these crashes, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who can advise you how to hold the trucker and the trucking company responsible for compensating you for your injuries.
What Are the Causes of Truck Head-On Collisions?
Head-on collisions occur when a truck crosses the center line or median and crashes into oncoming traffic. Why would a trucker do this? Some common reasons include:
- Speeding. When truckers speed or fail to slow down for road or weather conditions, they can lose control of their truck and veer across lanes, especially if they are trying to regain control and overcompensate.
- Fatigue. Truckers drive ten hours or more for days on end—sometimes without taking rests as required by federal hours-of-service regulations regarding how long they can drive. If truckers become drowsy or fall asleep at the wheel, they can easily drift into oncoming traffic with devastating results for the victims.
- Distracted driving. When truck drivers are focused on eating or drinking, talking on their cellphone, texting, or looking up directions, their eyes and minds—and sometimes their hands—are not focused on the road and their driving. In a split second, they can easily cross over into another lane of traffic without even realizing it.
- Impaired driving. This can include driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain medications that can impair a trucker’s ability to drive. If the intoxication is severe enough, the driver could drive the wrong way on a road or highway, causing deadly multi-vehicle crashes.
- Swerving to avoid obstacles. If obstacles such as tire debris or dead animals are in the roadway, a trucker may instinctively swerve to avoid it—especially if he was not paying attention to the road—right into oncoming traffic.
- Speeding around curves. Curves can be dangerous when trucks speed around them, and the trucker can easily lose control and cross over the center lane.
- Passing. Impatient truckers attempting to pass slower vehicles on two-way roads when they do not have sufficient time to do so can crash into an oncoming vehicle, causing more serious injuries because the trucker was more likely speeding too.
- Wide turns. If a trucker does not navigate a wide turn correctly, he can crash into an automobile in another lane.
How Trucking Company Policies Can Contribute to a Head-On Collision
In some cases, the trucking company’s policies can contribute to the trucker causing a head-on collision. If the company fails to give truckers sufficient time to complete their trips or encourages truckers to speed to get onto the next job, truckers are more likely to drive unsafely and when drowsy. If the driver is also inexperienced or not properly trained, he is even more likely to cause a head-on or other type of collision.
In addition, improper truck maintenance can be the cause of a head-on accident. Trucking companies must ensure that proper maintenance is performed regularly, pre-trip inspections for maintenance issues are completed, and loads are properly secured. Sadly, these companies are often more concerned about profits than safety and fail to follow these requirements—in violation of federal regulations. Not only do they allow trucks on the roads with dangerous maintenance issues like faulty brakes and worn tires, they even sometimes have the front brakes unhooked or depowered to reduce the cost of replacing the brakes or tires. These unsafe and negligent practices can be a contributory factor in a truck head-on collision.
If you or a family member was injured in an accident caused by a trucker, you need an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the additional liability issues of truck accident cases and who is willing to fight for the compensation you deserve. Start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.