WHY TRUCK SAFETY MATTERS
Truck safety matters to all who share our busy highways. Trucking is a huge industry in Ontario as truckers fan out in every direction to put food on your plate, gas in your tank and merch in your store. We need trucks. We need truckers. And we need to safely share our highways with the knights of the road. But be aware that the sheer size and weight of tractor trailers, combined with our challenging northern weather and driving conditions, make trucks a real handful for even the most skilled and conscientious truckers.
In Canada, it is estimated that approx 15% of highway deaths each year are due to collisions involving large trucks (TIRF 2015; TIRF: Road Safety Bulletin: A Question of Size, 01/2017, Daniel R. Mayhew, Robyn D. Robertson, and Stephen W. Brown). Large trucks are over-represented in highway deaths. Motorists are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured in large truck crashes. Trucks are statistically more likely to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes thus spreading the injury exponentially. Trucks just weigh so much more than passenger cars. Size matters. But size alone is not the only culprit.
There are at least 4 common causes of truck on car collisions:
1. Bad Maintenance: Trucks are ground to the ground and subject to severe wear because of the tens of thousands of miles their drivers log. Worn brake pads, bald tires, blown lights and cracked windshields cause crashes. The buck stops with the trucker to do a complete circle check at the beginning of every shift and file a complete and comprehensive maintenance log. Maintenance crews and company garages also need to regularly maintain their fleet on schedule;
2. Parts Failure: when trucks fail, liability may fall on parts manufacturers, truck manufacturers, truck dealers and the mechanic who installed a faulty part and failed to find the defect before installation;
3.Load Fail: trucking industries lay down their own rules for loading truck beds and properly securing cargo. If truckers and loading teams fail to follow the rules, cargo can fly off or fall off at speed causing severe personal injuries to following motorists; and
4.Trucker Error: young and inexperienced male truck drivers bear the lion share of responsibility for speeding, inexperience with harsh winter driving conditions, failure to check loads and generally being unaware of their own physical limits, sleep deprivation and the trap of drowsy driving. And while the majority of truckers are amongst the most professional and experienced drivers on our roads, they are still human. Humans that struggle with substance abuse, fatigue and distracted driving. Professional truckers also struggle with commercial scheduling, may be nanny-sat by fleet managers demanding constant distracting communication and log-ins and required timely deliveries whatever the weather and road conditions.
Trucks are also designed with higher ground clearance. This leaves passenger cars and motorbikes at serious risk of under-riding trucks in crashes. Horrifying under-ride crashes continue to occur despite pressure for government action and regulation throughout North America. Victims and safety organizations alike are lobbying to strengthen under-ride protection, including more laws for rear impact guards and have also proposed side under-ride guards. Just what type of guard offers the best protection and the practical distinction between straight trucks vs. tractor-trailers is also up for debate (Driving.ca; How It Works: Truck Guards vs. Truck Skirts, February 20, 2019, Jil McIntosh).
Tech For Good
New fleet technology may deliver badly needed relief with back up cameras, cell phone block and on-board recorders, but face pushback from some experienced drivers who have rolled old school with flawless safety records for decades and view tech for good as yet another expensive distraction and invasion of their space. No seamless tech promise of truck safety is on the horizon. And technology alone can never take the place of conscientious and experienced truckers. Like any industry, tech forward safety initiatives will be a slow, cost-forward and difficult transition.
Education and awareness of trucking dangers is key not only for truckers but for all other motorists. Never under-estimate the challenges of driving a truck. Most of us just couldn't fill their shoes or their seat. Please give truckers the respect and space they need to safely share the road with you.
But if you or your family drove safe, were seriously injured in a truck on car crash, and believe the truck driver or truck company was to blame, remember that these collisions are different. They are unique by nature. Tragically, they are also unique by force, impact and severity of injury.
If you have been severely injured in a truck on car crash, call an experienced injury lawyer who really understands that your crash is different than a car on car collision.
Call an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your claims and find out where you stand.
Big Rigs Reality