Out of all of the kinds of accidents that can occur on the roads of Philadelphia, truck accidents are by far the worst. Unlike in car accidents, where the vehicles involved are approximately 3,000 pounds each and are often the same height from the ground, truck accidents involve a vehicle that is 30,000 pounds even when empty of cargo and which has fenders that are significantly higher from the ground than other vehicles. As a result, truck accidents involve many times the physical force that regular accidents have, and that force impacts passenger cars at a height where they have little in the way of safety precautions.
The result is severe: Truck accidents tend to lead to catastrophic head or neck injuries to those in any regularly-sized vehicles involved. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 97% of the people killed in truck accidents in 2015 that involved a large truck and a passenger vehicle were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
With so much riding on the safety of truck drivers, one would think that they would get extensive training before they were ever allowed to hit the road in a big rig. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Trucking companies often push drivers out on to the road as soon as possible, well before they have been adequately trained. This puts the other drivers on the roads and highways of Philadelphia at risk of a serious trucking accident that leaves them severely hurt.
Inadequate Truck Driver Training Causes Accidents
Neither truck drivers nor the companies that hire them make money while the driver is training. Instead, truckers are typically only paid by the mile driven while hauling cargo, while the trucking company only makes money on delivery. As a result, both the trucker and the trucking company have a financial incentive to make truck driving training go by as quickly as possible and to move as much of that training to the road so they can both start making money as soon as they can.
As a result, it would make sense for poor truck driver training to lead to trucking accidents in and around the city of Philadelphia. Statistics back this up.
According to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), thousands of truck accidents every year are the result of an inadequately trained truck driver. Their study investigated the contributing causes behind 967 truck accidents in 17 states between 2001 and 2003 that caused an injury.
The results of this study included an interesting finding: 6.5% of the truck accidents it investigated included a truck driver who was unfamiliar with the truck they were driving at the time of the accident. Using this percentage for the estimated 141,000 truck accidents that happened while the study was going on, that meant an estimated 9,000 of the crashes that happened during the 33 months of the study included such a driver.
However, those were just the tip of the iceberg. The study also found that a huge proportion of the truck accidents involved truckers who were driving in ways that suggested they had been improperly or inadequately trained. Almost one in four trucking accidents involved a truck driver who was either speeding or was otherwise going too fast for the road conditions while more than one in five happened in part because the truck driver was unfamiliar with the roadway they were on. An additional one in five accidents happened because the truck driver was driving too aggressively or was tailgating the vehicle in front of them. In each one of these situations, the truck driver was driving in a way that suggested he or she was poorly trained.
The Importance of Proper Training for Truckers
It could be argued that driving a truck is just like driving a car, so anyone who could drive a car will not need much training to safely drive a tractor trailer. However, that is far from the case. In fact, driving a car – even a big one like an SUV or a Hummer – gives truck drivers more lessons that are best forgotten than insight into how to safely drive a truck.
One example is the stopping distance that is required to bring a car or a truck to a complete halt. If you are driving a car at 55 miles per hour and you hit the brakes, it typically only takes about 50 yards to come to a stop. On the other hand, if you are driving a tractor trailer, it can take closer to 120 yards. This means truck drivers need to look more than twice as far ahead of them to detect driving dangers and hazards and react appropriately to them. If they do not, there is no way for them to come to a stop before the collision happens.
Things get further complicated by the fact that hitting the brakes on a truck causes other things to happen, as well, which can actually exacerbate the dangers on the road. When a trucker slams on the brakes, it can make the cargo in the trailer shift drastically, changing the weight distribution and making it even more difficult for the trucker to lose control. Even if there is no cargo shift, slamming on the brakes in a tractor trailer and even lightly turning the wheel can cause the heavy trailer to jackknife to the side, leading to a jackknife accident or an even more serious rollover crash.
Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Properly trained truck drivers know not to make these mistakes, so their training can prevent an accident that could have seriously hurt you or someone you love. A truck driver is improperly trained, however, might not be able to avoid it, putting you in need of immediate medical attention.
This is where the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 so we can fight for your rights to compensation.