Four Ways to Prevent Truck Accidents

driving with trucksAccording to the American Trucking Association, there are 37.9 million trucks that are registered and in use that move 72.5 percent of the nation’s freight by weight. There were 10.23 billion tons of freight moved by trucks in 2020.

The sheer volume of these numbers means that nearly every time you’re on the road, you encounter a truck. Because their size and weight are significantly greater than cars and other motor vehicles, truck accidents can have disastrous consequences. You can greatly reduce the risk of an accident with a large truck by taking some of the following simple steps.

Stay Out of Blind Spots

Commercial trucks have far larger blind spots than the average passenger vehicle. The largest blind spot is on the passenger side of the truck. The safest place for a car to pass the truck is on the driver’s side. This increases the potential that the truck driver will see you and not accidentally merge into your car.

When possible, you should stay out of a commercial driver’s blind spots. A rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the driver in the cab or in the truck’s mirrors, they likely cannot see you. Blind spots for a commercial truck are in:

  • The driver’s side lane back about half the length of the trailer
  • The first 20 feet in front of the truck
  • The first 30 feet behind the truck
  • The two lanes on the passenger side of the truck

Allowing adequate space behind a truck also improves your visibility on the road. When you follow a large commercial vehicle closely, you can fail to see approaching road hazards that may not affect a larger vehicle, such as potholes, debris on the road, and slowing traffic.

Cutting in front of a truck while merging takes away the critical space a truck requires to slow or stop on the highway. This increases the potential risk of being rear-ended by a vehicle that is significantly larger and heavier than yours.

Give the Truck More Space

Motor vehicles should give trucks plenty of space on the highway. This increases the potential that you’ll be out of their blind spot but also reduces the risk of an accident caused by other factors. For example, when a truck tire blows out, pieces of the tire can break off and hit your car or your windshield. This can cause you to overcorrect and have an accident.

If a commercial truck must suddenly brake, the truck may tip over, or your car may slide underneath. High winds can also cause a truck to roll. The size and weight of a commercial truck mean they require more space to stop and slow down.

Before passing a truck, changing lanes, or turning near a commercial truck, be sure you use your car’s signals. This allows the truck driver to anticipate your actions. Consider using your signal sooner than you normally would to give the driver adequate time to adjust their speed and avoid a collision.

Trucks often require multiple lanes to turn in an intersection. Drivers should never pass on the side the truck means to turn and avoid following too closely.

Use Caution While Passing

Since commercial trucks cannot stop as quickly or maneuver as easily, you should be careful while passing. Always pass on the truck’s driver’s side. Do not pass a truck while it’s going uphill or downhill since the truck will likely not maintain its speed, which can cause you to over or under correct. Maintain your speed while you’re passing and use the correct signals. After passing the truck, do not merge in front until you can clearly see the driver in your rearview mirror.

Avoid Distractions

distracted drivingOne of the common causes of all car accidents is distracted driving. The same is true of truck accidents. It is crucial that you do not operate your vehicle while you’re texting, eating, drinking, or watching your GPS. Any distraction that takes your eyes, hands, and attention off the road can cause distracted driving. Even noisy or demanding passengers can create enough of a distraction to increase the risk of an accident.

Contact an Experienced Team Today

If you were in a truck accident, call the experienced legal team at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC today at (312) 346-8620 to schedule your confidential case evaluation.

Our team of compassionate and skilled of Chicago truck accident attorneys understands the burden you can face after a significant truck accident. We believe that our clients should spend their time recovering from your injuries and leave the complicated and often time-consuming legal process to us.

We will advise you on how to speak with the insurance adjusters and help you request and understand the accident report. We will also help you gather evidence, like the information from the truck driver’s log and black box.

Don’t delay, every minute counts when gathering evidence after an accident. Give yourself the best shot to recover the maximum amount in compensation possible. Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC to get to work with an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer today.

Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?

importance of black box in truck accidentIf you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a big rig or other large truck, there are several pieces of evidence you should seek to recover and preserve for when you file a claim.

Being in an accident with a truck is not the same as being in an accident with a car. Trucks are big, and the accidents are often catastrophic. Like airplanes, most large trucks have onboard devices known as black boxes that are designed to record and preserve information. That information can include the speed and movement of the truck just before an accident. Accidents need not be deadly for this information to be valuable, as it helps to provide context for how the truck, and by extension, the driver were behaving prior to an accident.

If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, you should contact a lawyer about your case immediately. Only an experienced lawyer can guide you through the legal process toward the maximum possible settlement for your injuries.

Keep in mind these points about the importance of preserving the truck’s black box:

Trucking companies may attempt to withhold the black box from evidence.

Because black boxes provide crucial evidence, trucking companies will often try to withhold this evidence unless they are legally compelled to provide it. There is a wealth of information to be found in the black box, as it stores data both in the moments leading up to the crash and after the crash. Because this information provides both the technical specifications and onboard activity, it can become much harder to prove that the trucking company or trucker was at fault if the black box information cannot be obtained.

Different black box components give us varying pieces of information.

What is known as a “black box” is actually several different pieces of equipment. They typically consist of the Electronic Control Module (ECM), Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), and Event Data Recorder (EDR).

  • The ECM is a computer that runs the engine of the truck. It is a series of computers and sensors that control the engine, as well as other automatic systems in the truck such as the transmission, anti-lock brake systems, and fuel injection. The ECM is the system that generates “fault codes” that mechanics can use when trying to diagnose an issue with the truck. They record a wide variety of information, such as speed, temperature, battery information, tire pressure, and other elements necessary for the safe functioning of a truck.
  • The ELD is a device that measures the driver’s operation of the truck. Trucking companies are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to maintain “hours of service” logs that document how far the truck is traveling and when the engine is running. These ELDs are useful in determining whether the driver was fatigued or driving overtime based on the hours of service the ELD tracks.
  • The EDR is what you most likely would think of when you think of a “black box.” This device records data about the vehicle in the moments before it detects an “event,” such as an airbag deployment or sudden braking or deceleration event. The information the EDR records includes speed, brake application, the turning of the wheels, and whether the cruise control was engaged.

lawyer recovering black box dataA personal injury lawyer gives you the best chance of successfully recovering the black box data and admitting it into evidence.

Trucking companies will often try to withhold the black box and associated information from evidence, and for good reason – it contains vital information about the crash and information that can be used to prove that the truck driver was at fault. Therefore, trucking companies will often not submit the EDR into evidence unless legally compelled to do so.

A qualified personal injury lawyer is your best bet for ensuring that this evidence is preserved and protected in the wake of an accident.

They understand the rules surrounding the preservation of evidence and will work to ensure that this evidence is admitted into your claim for consideration.

Contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, you need qualified legal representation on your side to ensure that you recover compensation and hold those who have injured you through their negligence accountable. Black boxes can provide critical information about trucking accidents, as they help to provide context to what was going on in the cabin prior to an accident. Contact a member of our legal team today.

Our attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients recover the compensation they need to recover from their truck accident injuries and damage.

A personal injury lawyer will understand how to recover this evidence and ensure that it does not get tampered with. Call the Chicago area truck accident lawyers of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC today at (312) 346-8620 for a free initial consultation.

What Is a Truck Driver’s Travel Log?

Auto accidents happen in a split second. All it takes is one drowsy blink, one change of the radio, one look at the view, or one text to send, and lives could be changed forever. And that’s just car accidents. Accidents with trucks are different – because they are big! Trucking Accident EDLA fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That’s more than 20 times the weight of a normal car. Truck accidents result in big injuries, big financial issues, and big life disruptions.

After a truck accident, you might be scratching your head wondering, “how did it happen?” What you need now is someone in your corner to help you through the next steps. If you’ve been in an accident with a truck in the Chicago area, give the attorneys at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC a call. We are here to help you navigate the legal intricacies of an accident with a commercial truck and to get you back on your financial feet in no time.

Laws and Regulations that Govern Truck Drivers

Many of the specific regulations that truck drivers must follow have to do with their Hours of Service (HOS). HOS regulations dictate how long a truck driver may operate their vehicle and be considered safe. Hours of Service are created, regulated, and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Why does the FMCSA care so much about the HOS of truck drivers? Simply put, a drowsy truck driver can end a life. Sleepy drivers have slow reaction times and therefore are not able to make the split-second, life-saving decisions that could be necessary on the highway.

Here are some of the rules that the FMCSA has in place for truck drivers. If not in compliance, truck drivers could be fined or worse.

  • 11 Hour Driving Limit — After resting for ten consecutive hours, truck drivers can drive for a maximum of 11 hours.
  • 14 Hour Limit — After said ten hours of rest, drivers may not drive beyond 14 consecutive hours.
  • 30-Minute Break — After driving for eight hours consecutively, drivers are required to take a 30-minute break. This break can be satisfied by being ‘off duty,’ being a passenger, sleeping, or a combination of these.
  • 60/70 Hour Limit — If driving seven or eight consecutive days, truck drivers’ HOS cannot exceed 60 or 70 hours.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions — When adverse driving conditions are expected, truck drivers are allowed to operate longer to account for slower progress on the road.

What’s a Travel Log?

In years past, truck drivers logged their HOS on paper sheets. These logs included the date and time of departure, the time driven, the locations of all stops, and the mileage of the vehicle. Drivers would regularly mail these to their employer, who would keep them on file for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reference.

Electronic Driving LogThese days, almost every commercial truck is required to be outfitted with an ELD, or Electronic Logging Device. ELDs are how truck drivers, their companies, and the DOT keep track of compliance with HOS laws and regulations. ELD’s are synchronized with the truck’s engine and record the time, date, and location of all stops, as well as the engine’s run time. ELDs will even warn drivers that their HOS are about to end — or that they must take a break.

Electronic Logging Devices contain valuable information about what happened in the moments before, during, and after a crash. If a truck driver was in violation of their HOS and then caused an accident, the ELD can help prove that they are liable.

The problem is this. If a trucking company suspects their driver is at fault for an accident, they won’t want to hand over ELD records. This is where the attorneys at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC can help.

Our experienced attorneys are here to go to bat for you against multi-million dollar trucking companies. We can help you find, collect, and present proof that a reckless truck driver caused your pain and suffering.

Call Us Today

Before you sat behind the wheel of a car for the first time, you knew to follow the posted speed limit, come to a full stop at all stop signs, use your blinker, and never drive tired. To avoid accidents, truck drivers have to follow the same rules and more. But, sometimes, truck drivers break the law and cause lasting pain for innocent people.

If you have been injured in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at (312) 346-8620 to speak with a truck accident attorney today. We can help guide you through the legal process and work on getting the compensation you need to cover your accident-related losses.

Written by Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC Last Updated : May 21, 2019