If you're like most people, you probably feel a bit nervous when you are driving directly next to, in front of or behind a massive commercial truck. There's good reason for that apprehension. Fatal semitruck and eighteen wheeler crashes have been on the rise in recent years, as have accidents with serious injuries. It only takes a second for a commercial truck to jackknife, blocking all traffic. If the vehicle doesn't have adequate underride guards, your vehicle could end up underneath the bigger vehicle. The result can be catastrophic.
Commercial truck drivers are required to undergo extra education compared to your average licensed driver. They get trained to handle these bigger vehicles, which take longer to stop, make wider turns and have massive blind spots that increase the risk of a collision. There are other factors that can also contribute to trucking accidents. Virginia sees a lot of commercial traffic, heading out from a variety of locations to the North and South. That means that there is a real risk of an accident with a commercial truck when you're on Virigina roads or freeways.
There are laws in place to reduce the number of crashes
In order to reduce the potential for these devastating accidents, the federal government and state governments have put rules and laws in place that are intended to reduce the number of serious truck collisions. These rules include stricter regulations regarding the consumption of alcohol. The average driver faces driving under the influence (DUI) charges if their blood alcohol content (BAC)is 0.08% or higher. Commercial drivers face DUI charges for half of that, 0.04% or higher.
Distraction and exhaustion are also common factors in commercial truck accidents. While it can be hard to limit distracted driving, there are laws in place called Hours of Service rules that limit how long a trucker can drive. These rules limit the number of hours driven in a seven or eight day period, as well as the number of hours a driver can work in a row. Drivers are limited to 60 hours in a seven day period or 70 hours in an eight day period. They are also only allowed to drive for 14 consecutive hours.
Anything beyond that is a violation of federal regulations, put in place to keep drivers safe. Unfortunately, some trucking companies offer financial incentives based on delivery times, which may motivate drivers to bend or break these rules. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in an accident with a commercial truck, looking into the driver's background and the history and policies of the company involved can help you determine what the next step should be.