The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the government agency that makes and implements regulations for the trucking industry in the United States, estimates about 110,000 truck accidents happen across the nation each year, including about 5,000 that result in death. Some of these accidents occur on Brooklyn’s streets and highways, especially the borough’s main thoroughfares such as Atlantic Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Smith Street, Fulton Street, DeKalb Avenue, and Bedford Avenue.
Heavy trucks, including semi-trucks, garbage trucks, cement trucks, and flatbed trucks, cause more property damage and injuries when an accident occurs. Trucks weigh more than passenger vehicles, which creates a greater force when they impact a car, truck, or motorcycle during a collision. Unfortunately, truck accidents also have a higher likelihood of fatality for those involved.
The majority of Brooklyn truck accidents are preventable and often occur as an indirect or direct result of negligent truck drivers, negligent motorists, and/or negligent trucking companies. If you have sustained truck accident injuries or lost a loved one in a Brooklyn truck accident, New York law permits you to seek compensation for damages from the truck driver or trucking company who caused the accident. Learn about your options by contacting an experienced Brooklyn truck accident attorney. Until you have the chance, this guide takes a deeper look at different types of truck accidents in Brooklyn, how they occur, and who might be liable.
Head-on Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
Anytime you drive throughout Brooklyn in your car, SUV, or on your motorcycle, you risk a head-on collision with a truck that can lead to severe injuries or death. Head-on collisions can happen when a truck driver travels the wrong way down a one-way street, but many occur on two-way streets and highways when a truck driver swerves into the lane of oncoming traffic.
Truck drivers might swerve for various reasons, including alcohol consumption, drug use, fatigue, distractions, or a medical emergency. Mechanical issues that cause a truck driver to lose control of their truck can also cause a truck driver to swerve and cause a head-on collision. Examples of mechanical problems include tire blowouts, power-steering failure, and braking system failures.
Those who find themselves on the dangerous path of a head-on collision with a truck sometimes do not have the time or distance to react and avoid the crash. Truck drivers are not likely to purposefully enter oncoming traffic, so when this occurs, something is wrong. The best way to avoid a potential head-on crash with a truck driver is to carefully watch the road while driving, so you have a chance of seeing a truck coming your way, and you can avoid it.
Rear-end Truck Collisions in Brooklyn
Rear-end traffic accidents can be serious, but many are fender-benders that result in minor injuries if any. The same is not true when a truck strikes the rear of a passenger vehicle. The size and weight of all types of trucks typically cause more damage and injuries. Trucks need additional space and time to slow down or stop in Brooklyn traffic because of their weight.
A fully loaded semi needs the length of two football fields to stop when traveling at highway speeds, meaning if a heavy truck is traveling somewhere between 30 and 40 miles per hour, they need the length of one football field. Smaller trucks also need significant time to slow down or stop because of their weight.
Truck drivers who hit the rear of another vehicle are tailgating, traveling too fast for conditions, or they might be impaired or distracted. Avoiding a rear-end collision is difficult because you usually look forward while driving.
Regularly scan your mirrors and avoid making erratic stops or turns. This gives truck drivers ample time to slow down and react appropriately to any actions you take. If you notice a truck driver tailgating you, the best way to avoid falling victim to a rear-end collision is to pull to the side and let the truck go around you.
Underride Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
Underride collisions are specific truck accidents that occur between a large truck, often a semi, and a smaller passenger vehicle. Fortunately, underride accidents do not occur often. Yet, when they do happen, they often lead to severe and fatal injuries. An underride truck accident can be a type of rear-end collision.
After a vehicle hits the rear of the truck, it sometimes slides underneath and gets stuck. If the truck driver continues to drive, the truck pulls the vehicle until it breaks away or the driver stops. Underride collisions can also occur when a car and truck collide during a lane change. The longer a vehicle rides under a truck, the more damage and the higher likelihood of fatality.
You should always avoid driving distractions, so you don’t cause an underride collision. Also, avoid following tractor-trailers too closely, so you have enough time to react if the truck driver slams on his brakes in Brooklyn traffic. It’s best to avoid driving near semi-trucks if you can. If a truck driver does not clear his blind spots, he could cause an underride collision, making it crucial that you do not ride in a truck’s blind spots. Instead, pass the truck quickly or hold back until you have the opportunity to pass safely.
T-Bone Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
T-bone collisions, sometimes called broadside or angle collisions, typically occur at intersections. They occur when the front of a truck strikes the side of another vehicle, making a “T” shape. Trucks typically need to stop far before they reach a controlled intersection and take time to leave the intersection after a light turns green, so T-bone truck accidents at controlled intersections are less common than at uncontrolled intersections.
Truckers who try to beat a yellow light or simply are not paying attention can run into another vehicle, especially when they are in a hurry. For example, an FDNY truck ran into a car at the intersection of Avenue U and East 4th Street when they were rushing. The force of the crash sent the car into the front of a Gravesend children’s clothing store.
The forceful impact of a heavy truck against the side of a passenger vehicle causes massive damage that often leads to life-threatening injuries. A T-bone collision might occur because of brake failure, distracted driving, or impaired driving.
You can help avoid a T-bone truck accident by approaching intersections carefully and slowing long before a light turns in a controlled intersection. It’s imperative that you only go through an intersection after you have looked both ways, even if you have the right of way. When you drive defensively, it’s less likely a heavy truck will crash into you in an intersection.
Jackknife Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
Jackknife accidents are specific to trucks that have a hitch, most often semi-trucks or tractor-trailers. The hitch allows a truck’s trailer to pivot when the driver turns, working like the hinge of a jackknife. When the truck makes a turn, the trailer follows. A jackknife accident occurs when a trailer skids and pivots too far towards the cab of the truck, which resembles the shape of a closing jackknife.
Heavy traffic, wet roads, snowy roads, and other conditions can lead to a jackknife, but the responsibility still falls on the truck driver. The driver needs to properly apply brakes to avoid a jackknife accident. Braking too hard, too fast, or using the “jake” brake in poor conditions can put a trailer into a skid. If a jackknife blocks traffic, other vehicles can run into the truck or trailer. As the trailer skids out of control, nearby vehicles are also at risk for accidents.
Brooklyn has plenty of traffic, making jackknife accidents dangerous and likely to cause a multi-vehicle pileup. However, jackknife accidents are more likely on interstate, highways, and at higher speeds. You are most likely to encounter a jackknifed truck on Belt Parkway or the Gowanus Expressway. Although a jackknife accident might occur in central Brooklyn, it’s far less likely. Regardless, the possibility of a jackknife accident is another reason to avoid driving in proximity to semi-trucks, especially in winter weather. If a truck’s trailer goes into a skid, you are far less likely to get hit or run into the trailer if you allow some space.
Rollover Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
Truck drivers often escape injury during an accident because they have the protection of a lot of metal. However, rollover accidents lead to serious accidents and sometimes severe and fatal injuries for truck drivers and any other motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians in their vicinity.
Although a semi-truck can rollover, it’s more common for other types of heavy trucks to roll. Dump trucks, garbage trucks, and cement trucks are top-heavy, so they easily roll over when a driver loses control.
A city street sweeper and private garbage truck crashed into each other in a recent Brooklyn truck accident at the corner of Nostrand and Flushing Avenues in Williamsburg. The garbage truck rolled and landed on three vehicles in its path, and five other vehicles also were part of the multi-vehicle accident. Fortunately, only minor injuries occurred. The sweeper driver and garbage truck driver went to Woodhull Hospital via ambulance for back pain.
Rollovers occur for multiple reasons, but ultimately the loss of control directly leads to a rollover. Studies show that tire blowouts cause the most truck rollover accident. Other causes include alcohol or drug use, weight and balance problems, medical issues, and mechanical breakdowns. Too much speed, especially when a driver is experiencing one of the previously listed issues, can lead to a dangerous and deadly rollover when a truck goes around a curve or corner.
Like other Brooklyn truck accidents, the most effective way to avoid suffering injuries from a truck rollover is to keep a safe distance away from trucks when sharing the road. Heavy traffic sometimes makes this difficult, but do the best you can. Try to keep a few car lengths behind a truck or in front of a truck, and do not linger next to them in traffic.
Load-related Truck Accidents in Brooklyn
Sometimes, truck accidents occur because of circumstances outside the control of the truck driver. Trucking companies have a legal obligation to comply with federal regulations about loading and securing cargo. Trucks and trailers have weight limits. Failure to adhere to weight limits impacts a truck’s center of gravity and makes it more difficult to control and more likely to get in an accident.
How companies load a trailer sometimes matters too. Uneven weight distribution can impact how well a truck driver can control his truck and make it difficult to avoid rolling over and spilling cargo. When truck drivers, trucking companies, and the employees they hire to load trucks do not properly load and secure cargo, truckers can not only lose control of their truck, but cargo can spill and cause an accident.
Flatbed trucks and other trucks with open trailers are especially vulnerable to load spillage. Loose cargo can lead to fires, explosions, and exposure to toxic substances, causing injuries to everyone nearby. Tanker trucks that carry flammable liquids also have risks of alcohol, gasoline, or other liquid spills.
However, load spillage does not always include hazardous materials. Harmless materials can cause severe accidents and life-threatening injuries if they spill onto other vehicles or the road, so traffic collides with the spillage. Liquid spills sometimes cause cars to hydroplane until they go off the road or run into another vehicle.
Truck accidents lead to severe and treacherous injuries that often carry massive financial costs for accident victims and their families. Try to safely share Brooklyn’s roads with truck drivers, but if you sustain injuries, contact an experienced Brooklyn truck accident lawyer immediately to learn about the best course of action to recover damages related to truck accident injuries. Don’t suffer because a truck driver’s or trucking company’s negligent choices led to an accident and your injuries.