Though these behemoths of the highways can be slow moving and clearly visible under nearly any weather conditions, many of these vehicles can be seen traveling at 75 miles per hour or more. On Arizona rural interstates, trucks are allowed to travel 75 mph. On urban interstates, the speed limit is 65 mph.
Depending on whether the truck is loaded, it has stopping distances that far exceed that of ordinary vehicles. On steep declines, there are escape roads for truckers to use if their brakes fail. Because of the hazardous nature of some loads that trucks carry, truck size and other characteristics, truckers must be trained in safely operating the vehicle, securing its load and conducting inspections.
In some circumstances, commercial operators are held to a higher standard of care than ordinary motorists. Drivers and trucking companies are heavily regulated, especially by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Truckers can drive a limited number of hours per week and day, must rest a minimum time when these hours are met, and must keep detailed records. Random drug tests are also required for commercial drivers.
Truck accidents are caused by some factors similar to those in passenger car accidents but by others unique to trucks:
During investigations of catastrophic or fatal truck accidents, attorneys and investigators have uncovered evidence of trucking companies and drivers who have falsified trip logs or test results, or failed to conduct tests or safety inspections at all. Many trucks now have so-called black boxes onboard, similar to those found on aircraft that can supply valuable information regarding the truck’s operation in the hours, minutes or seconds before the accident.
Although truck accident victims may be lucky to escape a collision with minor injuries, many do not. The tremendous forces involved in a collision with a 30-ton vehicle at any speed will typically cause catastrophic injuries, including:
Trucking companies usually carry large liability policies to protect themselves in the event of an accident. The amount of compensation available to an injured victim depends on issues of liability and the nature and extent of the injuries suffered, as well as their impact on the victim’s life and family.