New York City is home to a complex system of roadways, with many restrictions on commercial vehicles, including semis and tractor-trailers, from traveling along the city’s parkways within Brooklyn and other boroughs. Brooklyn’s difficulty to navigate can confuse new truck drivers or commercial drivers new to the area, which can result in tragic accidents with other vehicles and damage to property, such as bridges and overpasses.
The roadways that do allow for truck passage face heavy large truck traffic combined with day-to-day commuter traffic, which can create dangerous situations and a higher incidence of collisions between passenger vehicles and trucks.
On average, 30,000 to 40,000 motor vehicle collisions happen each year within Brooklyn. Of those accidents, more than 15,000 result in injuries and involve over 50 fatalities annually.
Why Do Most Truck Accidents Occur?
Many factors, such as weather, road conditions, and traffic, can contribute to a truck accident; however, in the vast majority of motor vehicle collisions, the most widespread cause is negligence. Negligence is the most common reason that truck accidents occur, and usually, the at-fault party could have avoided the accident had he or she taken proper precautions and/or exercised adequate care.
Truck driver actions or inactions cause many of the truck accidents that occur due to negligence. In many instances, the truck driver will act in a negligent manner, which results in impacts to other vehicles, drivers, and passengers. Truck driver negligence is often to blame in commercial vehicle accidents.
Truck drivers hold a unique profession in that their work involves constant travel and transportation of goods for hire. Trucking requires drivers to remain alert and rested at all times to ensure that they can safely travel the roadways in our cities and towns. When operating these massive vehicles with often heavy or hazardous materials inside, drivers must maintain focus at all times. Any misstep or error on the part of a truck driver may have tragic consequences for those sharing the road.
Insufficient training. To become a truck driver, drivers must apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). As part of the application for a CDL, a driver must partake in certain training to pass the required tests; however, some CDL schools advertise the possibility of completing these training requirements in as little as three weeks.
While employers must ensure that their drivers can handle these commercial vehicles, the high demand for drivers and increased demand for work often leads to rookie drivers taking to the road with little to no additional training. A few short weeks of training behind the wheel of a big rig can give drivers some preparation for the challenges ahead, but this amount of training does not make a truck driver proficient enough to handle many of the situations that may arise or teach drivers how to properly react. This lack of training can result in inexperienced drivers making grave errors behind the wheel, which can threaten drivers’ lives and the lives of other individuals sharing the roadways.
Reckless driving. Truck drivers have a reputation for aggressive and intimidating driving behaviors—and for good reason. Whether it’s external pressures from clients or employers or drivers’ own internal desire to finish the haul as fast as possible, drivers often push the boundaries while driving and, in turn, put other drivers at risk. Speeding, improper passing, and tailgating are common truck driver behaviors reported by other drivers on the road. When these behaviors cause an accident, the results can prove devastating and may lead to horrific injuries to the drivers and passengers of the automobiles hit.
Truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers push their limits often, a problem that the transportation and shipment industries recognize. The Federal government has enacted regulations that attempt to combat this problem, but unfortunately, many fatigued truck drivers remain on the road every day. The need to earn more money or to appease employers with a fast turnaround on shipments can put immense pressure on drivers to risk their health and safety as well as the wellbeing of the public.
Drowsy driving can impair drivers’ judgment, limit their reaction times, or cause them to lose complete control of their vehicles if they fall asleep behind the wheel. A semi-truck running rampage on a highway or street spells disaster and may end in death or serious injury to everyone involved in the aftermath.
Driving under the influence. For many drivers, trucking proves stressful and lonely. As a result, many drivers abuse alcohol and/or drugs, and drivers that partake in these dangerous habits often do so while on the job. Unlike other professions, where an individual goes home after a long day, truck drivers remain on the job throughout the entire haul of goods. Truckers eat, sleep and live on the road each day and may stop for drinks after a long day of driving or take part in other recreational activities that could put the public at risk once the truckers resume driving.
Distracted driving. Most truck drivers sit behind the wheel for up to 14 hours each day. This is a considerable amount of time to focus solely on the drive ahead and can easily lead to falling into distractions. From phone calls to texting while driving, eating on the road to watching TV on a mobile device, many distractions exist that can take a truck driver’s attention away from the obstacles and road ahead. It takes just one short moment to cause a collision on the road when a truck driver’s eyes or focus stray from the road ahead.
Improperly Loaded Cargo
The process of loading a shipment of cargo or materials onto a big rig may seem like a routine procedure that has little bearing on the transportation of a haul. However, loading cargo requires experience and attention to detail to ensure that the shipment is properly secured and evenly distributed. A haphazard approach to loading materials can result in catastrophe down the road.
Truckers must consider the weight, size, and dimensions of their cargo and strategically place it in the container or bed of their trucks. Any mistake in loading cargo may cause a truck to roll over or a driver to lose control during travel, putting nearby vehicles and bystanders at risk of injury or death.
Failure to Inspect
Large trucks include moving parts that must work in sync seamlessly to ensure a smooth and safe drive for the driver, cargo, and other vehicles on the road. To ensure the safety of a vehicle, the driver and the truck company must conduct periodic and routine inspections to look for any indications of problems that could interfere with the truck’s performance and overall safety.
Unfortunately, to reduce costs and save time, drivers and employers may cut corners during the inspection process, which can fail to identify a serious risk or concern on the truck that can cause difficulties on the road that lead to a truck accident. Drivers must inspect certain areas of their trucks daily.
Daily inspections for commercial vehicles include:
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Emergency equipment
- Parking mechanism
- Steering components
- Truck horn
- Lights and reflectors
Trucks require maintenance and replacement of worn-down parts and accessories, such as tires, wipers, and brakes, from time to time to maintain a vehicle’s safety and performance. Unlike passenger vehicles that require maintenance every few months or annually for some components, trucks endure extensive wear and tear due to the number of miles traveled each day. For this reason, trucks require proper routine maintenance.
Inspections constitute a big part of the maintenance process, as an inspection will identify problematic areas that require repair or replacement on the truck or trailer. When truckers and trucking companies overlook routine inspections, required maintenance won’t occur.
In addition, if an inspection reveals a costly repair or necessary replacement of equipment, a driver or company may postpone the required maintenance to save money or time, which in turn puts others at risk. When a truck remains on the road without proper maintenance, accidents due to tire blowouts, faulty brakes, impaired steering capabilities, and obstructions to vision may result.
Defective Equipment or Parts
In some instances, even with proper inspection and maintenance of truck parts and equipment, a catastrophic failure will occur that leads to an accident harming innocent victims on the road. In these situations, it may prove necessary to take a closer look at the truck components that may have led up to the events of the accident. If an inherently defective truck part or piece of equipment causes an accident, the manufacturer of the defective product could face liability for the accident and resulting injuries.
The Different Types of Truck Accidents
Every truck accident is unique, and the specific type of truck accident that occurs will have a significant impact on the severity of the damages and the risk of fatality involved. The actions of a truck driver or the condition of a truck while on the road can contribute to how a truck accident unfolds and the risk posed to others on the road.
Common types of truck accidents include:
- Underride or override collisions – In this type of truck crash, a vehicle becomes lodged beneath the chassis of a truck when a truck either travels over the rear end of a vehicle or a vehicle crashes into the rear-end or side end of a truck and becomes entrapped underneath. These crashes often prove horrific and can result in fatalities to the occupants of the vehicles beneath the truck.
- Head-on crashes – A common result of distracted or drowsy driving includes a situation where a truck driver loses focus of the road ahead and drifts into oncoming traffic, striking a vehicle head-on. In many cases, these crashes can result in the death of both the truck driver and the driver or passengers of the other vehicle.
- Rear-end accidents – These crashes commonly occur in congested traffic, hazardous weather conditions, or dangerous road conditions, where truck drivers misjudge their distance, overestimate braking ability, or look away from the road and strike the vehicles stopped ahead. This type of accident is especially dangerous to passengers in the rear seat of a vehicle and commonly results in an override.
- Airborne debris – Loose debris from trucks traveling at high speeds along highways and interstates can cause deadly projectiles to hurdle toward vehicles driving behind tractor-trailers and semi-trucks. Improperly secured cargo, loose materials, and tire blowouts can all lead to serious accidents with surrounding vehicles.
- Rollover collision – Inexperience and recklessness commonly contribute to truck rollover crashes. Speeding through steep grades and curves, sudden shifts in cargo loads, and abrupt maneuvers can all cause a driver to quickly lose control of a truck and the trailer.
Jack-knife accident – This type of crash occurs when the front cabin and rear trailer of a truck fold in on themselves while traveling across the roadway. This out-of-control chain of events can result in one or multiple vehicles getting caught in the jackknife action of the truck and can cause devastating impacts on drivers and passengers in those vehicles.
What Should You Do After a Brooklyn Truck Accident?
If you’ve lost a loved one in a Brooklyn truck accident, or if you have been injured in a collision with a truck, you may qualify to seek compensation for the losses and damages that you and your family have suffered. Contact a Brooklyn truck accident lawyer to discuss the circumstances of your case and your legal options. Retaining an attorney to handle your case can provide numerous benefits, most of all freeing up your own time to focus on your physical and mental recovery. Let an experienced attorney handle negotiations with at-fault parties and their insurance companies; reach out today.