Any rear-end collision—even a minor one between two small cars—can cause the victims to suffer life-altering injuries. If a big-rig truck weighing 80,000 pounds or more rear-ends a passenger vehicle, the results can be more catastrophic, especially on highways and roadways with higher speed limits. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers caused 3,906 fatalities and 73,000 injuries in crashes in 2013, with rear-end accidents being the cause of 4.2 percent of all fatalities.
How Do Truckers Cause Dangerous Rear-End Crashes?
Several reasons contribute to rear-end collisions caused by trucks being more dangerous than those involving only passenger vehicles. A few of these include:
- Trucks are approximately 40 times heavier than passenger vehicles, so their larger weight and mass result in more damage and injuries when they smash into other vehicles.
- The stopping distance for big-rig trucks is much longer than for automobiles and other large commercial vehicles.
- Trucks are more likely to cause multi-vehicle crashes when they cause a rear-end collision due to their size and weight.
Sadly, many rear-end collisions are preventable and are caused by easily fixed problems. Some of the reasons truckers cause these crashes include:
- Bad brakes. When truck brakes are not properly maintained or malfunction, the trucker is unable to stop or slow down his truck, especially when he needs to do so quickly, with disastrous consequences for the accident victims. Poorly adjusted brakes or defects are one of the most common causes of these collisions.
- Inadequate lighting. When there is insufficient lighting, truckers have more difficulty seeing the vehicles in front and surrounding them and situations where they need to stop or slow down. Many rear-end collisions occur at night.
- Impaired driving. If a trucker is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, his reaction time, reasoning abilities, and driving skills are significantly diminished, making it much more likely he will crash into a vehicle in front of him.
- Improper signaling. Truck drivers often fail to use their turn signals properly when moving into other lanes, giving other motorists no time to speed up or get out of the way if the trucker leaves insufficient space between his truck and their vehicles.
- Faulty headlights. Driving with faulty or non-working headlights can make it impossible for a trucker to see the vehicles around him at night. Truckers are required to check their trucks for maintenance issues like this before going on the road, but often fail to do so in their haste to start their trip.
- Fatigue. Driver fatigue slows down reaction time and reduces a motorist’s awareness of those he shares the road with. This is an even bigger problem for truckers who drive 10 hours or more with no breaks day after day.
- Distracted driving. When truckers are fiddling with their instrument controls, eating, talking on a cellphone, or texting, their eyes and minds are not focused on their driving and other motorists. This can result in them not seeing traffic slowing down, a light turning red, or motorists suddenly stopping due to conditions on the road in sufficient time to brake and avoid a crash.
Is the Trucker Always Liable in a Rear-End Collision?
Both Georgia and South Carolina are at-fault states in relation to car and truck accidents, making the at-fault motorist responsible for victims’ injuries. This means that there will most likely be a presumption that the rear-ending trucker was at fault in causing the accident—making liability easier to prove and the truck driver and the trucking company responsible for compensating the victim. However, these cases are complex—especially in multi-vehicle crashes—and more parties than just the truck company and truck driver could face liability.
If you or a family member was injured in an accident caused by a trucker, you could suffer devastating injuries such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord and back injuries, paralysis, and serious fractures. You need an experienced truck accident attorney on your side because the trucking company and other liable parties will fight to pay you as little as possible. Start an online chat or call us at 888-795-6261 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced and compassionate legal team.