Because 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers are so heavy and large, it is vital that truck drivers operate the vehicles with the highest level of attention and care. Many operators mistakenly believe that there is nothing wrong with speeding. While the legal penalties associated with driving over the posted limited aren’t anything close to a DUI, the lifelong consequences for accident victims can be the same or worse.
Statistics show that not only do speeding trucks cause serious crashes with injuries, but also claim lives. In Alabama alone, there were over 7,500 trucks involved in crashes in 2017, and speeding was listed as the specific cause in 356 of them. However, it was no doubt a secondary cause in the majority of other accidents as well.
Why Speeding Trucks Are So Dangerous
There is a common misconception about the definition of speeding. While it is true that speeding refers to driving faster than the posted speed limit, it can also mean driving a truck too fast for current conditions. For example, operating a truck on a road with a 65-mph speed limit when that speed would be unsafe in a blizzard or heavy thunderstorm.
Few things are as dangerous as a truck that is speeding down the road. The NHTSA reports that speed is a contributing factor in one-third of fatal accidents. The danger is compounded for everyone on the road when the vehicle speeding is an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. Some of the reasons that speeding trucks are so dangerous include:
- Increased stopping distance. 18-wheelers need much more distance to stop than the average vehicle. When there is excessive or inappropriate speed involved, the distance required to stop will be even greater.
- Difficulty turning. Large trucks must make wide turns and need to drastically reduce speed to navigate corners. If the driver is speeding, they might overcorrect or overshoot a turn.
- Shifting cargo. The vibrations caused by excessive speed can cause a truck’s cargo to shift, which can unbalance the vehicle. This increases the chance of a rollover accident.
- Increased jackknife and rollover risk. Tractor-trailers have a high center of gravity, so they are already at risk of rollover and jackknife accidents, but high speeds increase this risk.
- Truck tires not made for high speed. The Associated Press published a story revealing that most commercial trucks have tires that aren’t meant for high speeds. Specifically, large truck tires are designed to be driven at 75 mph or less, so higher speeds can increase the odds of a blowout.
- More difficult to control. Large trucks are harder to control at higher speeds. Not only will the operator have less time to react to unexpected events and road conditions, but the truck is also limited in maneuverability at high speeds.
The Department of Transportation Regulations on Speeding
Truck drivers have a variety of reasons for speeding, and none of them are justified. Some might want to make a delivery deadline and others are simply frustrated with the traffic on the road. The FMCSA has issued regulations meant to keep commercial trucks from speeding in dangerous conditions.
Under the rules, trucks are supposed to slow the speed and use extreme caution, regardless of the posted speed limit, when the following scenarios are present:
- A truck is entering a curve in a road;
- A truck is driving with a fully-loaded trailer;
- A truck is driving through a work or construction zone;
- The weather creates hazardous road conditions; or
- When pulling off an exit ramp.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck where speed was a factor, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
How a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney Can Help After a Crash
An accident with a big rig can be incredibly traumatic, and most victims of these crashes find themselves overwhelmed by the claims process and other obstacles suddenly in their path. Between speaking with insurance adjusters, doctors, and trying to recover from your injuries, this can be a difficult time.
At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have extensive experience guiding people just like yourself through this legal process so you can focus on reclaiming your life. Our legal team will not only protect your rights to recovery from the responsible parties, but also speak directly with the insurance companies so that you don’t have to. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a crash with a commercial truck, our qualified Alabama personal injury attorneys know what it takes to investigate these matters and pursue the just compensation you need and deserve. Contact our Birmingham office now at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.