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Tired drivers and bad maintenance behind many truck accidents

Many West Virginia motorists get a bit nervous when they have to share the road with large commercial trucks. Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has identified driver fatigue and insufficient vehicle maintenance as contributors to many crashes, including fatal ones.

Nationwide, wrecks involving large trucks killed 3,852 people in 2015. Among the dead, 16 percent of the people were inside the truck cabs, 69 percent occupied passenger vehicles and the remaining 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. The IIHS identified tired truck drivers as a threat to roadway safety. Truckers who had been working long hours without sleep had an 86 percent greater chance of getting in a wreck than drivers who had been awake less than eight hours. Driving for over five hours without a break also doubled the crash risk.

When accident investigators inspected crashed trucks, almost three-quarters of them had vehicle defects. Trucks that had serious violations, such as bad brakes or worn tires, had quadruple the risk of crashes compared to commercial vehicles without defects. Brake violations increased the likelihood of an accident by at least 50 percent, and, in the case of out-of-service brake violations, the risk went up by a factor of three.

Victims of truck accidents sometimes experience disabling or catastrophic injuries. A person coping with serious injuries and high medical bills could ask an attorney to pursue a settlement for the semi trucking accident. This effort could include looking for truck maintenance violations or a drowsy driver. An attorney could seek out maintenance logs kept by a trucking company and review the work hours of the driver. This evidence could impose liability on the trucking company and its insurer. An attorney could handle communications with the responsible parties and manage the court paperwork.

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