Common Causes for Tractor Trailer Accidents:
There are approximately ten (10) commercial truck driving schools in South Carolina. Several are part of technical colleges, but the largest and most established trucking schools boasts that they can “put you in the driver’s seat” in as little as “15 days.” They further advertise that “3 weeks really CAN change your life.”
Because long haul truck drivers cross state lines, you must be at least twenty-one (21) years old to get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). We all know how young and irresponsible many 21 year olds are at that tender age. Nevertheless, given the above minimum requirements, you can be just 21 years old and start driving a tractor-trailer rig on the interstate highways after just 3 weeks of “training.” And, of course, those 15 days do not involve actual driving the entire time.
There is also classroom instruction and written testing. So, in truth, it is really just a matter of hours “behind the wheel” and actually driving a large vehicle that weighs in excess of 26,000 pounds. Sadly, without proper and extensive initial training, those “3 weeks really CAN change (many lives),” or end them.
“With great power…”
We can all at least mildly understand the power and weight that lies behind a tractor trailer truck in motion. To put it into perspective: A fully loaded tractor trailer can take as long as a football field to come to a halt. Furthermore, practically nothing, except another rig of similar size and weight, can stop it. In short, tractor trailer accidents can be fatal to any and all who are involved. When you add someone with little to no experience into the mix? The chances of an accident occurring are all the more present.
Another common cause for tractor trailer accidents is driver fatigue. Tractor trailer drivers are often pulling long days, as well as odd times of day. While this is a big reason for driver fatigue, you also have to consider the other aspects of their jobs that can lead to these issues. Drivers are sleeping in their trucks, driving long hours (often through the night), staring at the road, and quite often, they are by themselves all the time.
Not to mention, long haul drivers are put under tremendous pressure by trucking companies to deliver their load without concern for how much stress the driver is under to do so. And, if a driver owns his own rig, he/she is only making money “when the wheels are turning.”
When companies, or drivers, push themselves beyond reasonable limits, serious accidents occur. While choosing to push your limits and drive in unsafe conditions is a choice, it often feels like the only choice. In short, being a truck driver is not for the faint of heart. So, how can you prevent driver fatigue-related accidents?
Preventing driver fatigue in tractor trailer accidents:
There are plenty of tactics which can help prevent driver fatigue. Consider keeping the cab cool by opening a vent or using the air conditioner. Additionally, avoid medications which can cause drowsiness and take regular breaks to have a walk, a nap, or to inspect your vehicle.
You driver manual specifically warns that sleep is the only solution for a tired body and mind. However, many drivers attempt to “keep going” with coffee, over the counter “alert” products, and even prescription and illegal drugs. Such measures may last for a short while, but when they “wear off,” the effects end quickly and unpredictably. That is when really bad things happen.
Other Common Causes for Trucking Accidents:
While driver fatigue and training are some of the most common reasons for these types of accidents— accidents happen for any number of reasons. Each case is different, as is the cause behind it. But, awareness is typically the first step in making a change to the way people operate.
- “Super-Single” Tire Failure
- Careless or reckless driving
- Driving while impaired (alcohol and/or drugs)
- Overloaded trucks
- Improperly loaded trucks
- The Lure of More Money
- Improper maintenance
- Improper safety parts
- Improper supervision or training
- Lack of Qualified Drivers