Why are there so many large truck accidents in West Virginia?

Many trucking safety violations that are commonly cited in West Virginia, such as speeding and HOS rule violations, can greatly raise the risk of crashes.

Accidents involving large trucks and tractor-trailers rank among the most dangerous crashes for other motorists. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, large trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than passenger vehicles, which put people in those smaller passenger vehicles at great risk for catastrophic outcomes. Collisions involving large trucks and tractor-trailers rarely result in minor injuries. Tragically, many of these collisions result in severe and permanent injuries or death.

The attorneys at Farmer, Cline & Campbell have years of experience in representing individuals and families whose lives have been dramatically changed as a result of a truck driver or trucking company's negligent or reckless acts. We know the intricate regulations that apply to the trucking industry and we work hard to uncover all of the violations that cause or contribute to these unfortunate and tragic collisions.

Many large truck accidents occur as a result of the truck driver's negligence. Other large truck accidents occur as a result of the trucking company's failure to properly train its drivers or maintain its vehicles. In our many years of experience in representing individuals and families affected by collisions with large truck and tractor trailers, we have found that the following forms of truck driver or trucking company negligence are the most prevalent causes of truck crashes here in West Virginia.

Hours of Service "HOS" violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration governs the trucking industry and has established strict hours-of-service regulations to ensure that truckers are adequately rested. These regulations limit how long truckers can drive without a break and how many hours the drivers can be on duty in a given workday and work week. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for truck drivers and trucking companies to ignore these regulations and go over the hour of service limitations. In 2015, over one-tenth of the violations for which the FMCSA cited truckers in West Virginia involved HOS regulations.

Unfortunately, HOS violations may significantly raise the risk of accidents. According to The New York Times, the Department of Transportation estimates that about 13 percent of large truck crashes occur due to truck driver fatigue. However, this could under-represent the problem, since driver fatigue is a notoriously under-reported cause of accidents and some truck drivers and trucking companies attempt to alter their log books to avoid citations. The attorneys at Farmer, Cline & Campbell have been successful in proving truck drivers violated the hours of service and log book regulations, even when the driver isn't cited by law enforcement for those violations.

Speeding

When truckers travel at speeds that are unlawful or unsafe given road or traffic conditions, their likelihood of causing a severe accident rises dramatically. Many of us have been driving on the interstate and witnessed a truck driver driving too fast, following too closely, or otherwise driving in a way that places others at risk. High travel speeds exacerbate several issues that already make trucks more likely to cause serious accidents. Those include:

• Reduced braking capability. Trucks use different braking systems than passenger vehicles, and due to their large weight, they require more space to stop. Trucks traveling at high speeds need even more stopping distance. If a truck is following another vehicle too closely such that sufficient stopping distance is not maintained, the potential for a catastrophic crash is great.

• Excessive momentum in crashes. Truck accidents are often severe because trucks bring large amounts of energy into a crash, due to their large size and weight. A speeding truck has even greater energy to dispel, which makes severe vehicle damage or injuries more likely.

• Reduced response times. Compared to passenger vehicle drivers, truckers must recognize hazards and act sooner to prevent crashes. Speeding reduces the amount of time that a driver has to take action and avert an accident.

In the 2015 calendar year, speeding was the top violation cited in FMCSA inspections of commercial vehicles in West Virginia. Over one-quarter of the citations were issued to drivers who exceeded the speed limit by at least 6 miles per hour.

Truck drivers are trained to understand the reduced braking capability, excessive momentum, and reduced response times involved in driving a large vehicle. The attorneys at Farmer, Cline & Campbell have used that training to prove that truck drivers failed to adhere to their training and, as a result, injured an innocent motorist.

Traffic law violations

Another highly cited safety violation in last year's FMCSA inspections was failure to obey traffic control signals or devices. This violation may greatly increase the risk of accidents in intersections, construction zones and areas where bicyclists or pedestrians share the road with trucks. Alarmingly, over 10 percent of the reported citations were for this dangerous behavior.

Farmer, Cline & Campbell has successfully represented many individuals who were injured by a truck driver's failure to obey traffic control devices, whether it is running a red light, failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or changing lanes when it is unsafe to do so. Many of us have witnessed these unsafe driving practices. Farmer, Cline & Campbell will work hard to uncover all of the evidence and testimony available to prove the truck driver violated the law and was at fault for the collision.

Remedies for accident victims

If you or a family member has been injured by the negligent or reckless acts of a truck driver, give Farmer, Cline & Campbell a call. The regulations governing commercial trucking are intricate. The investigating law enforcement officers do not always find every violation or locate or speak to important witnesses who may be helpful to your case. Let the experienced attorneys at Farmer, Cline & Campbell work hard to uncover all of the violations that caused the collision, and all of the evidence that is necessary to make sure you are fairly and adequately compensated.