Anyone who has been involved in any kind of serious traffic accident knows how dangerous a car or trucking-related collision can be. As Maryland injury specialists, I and my colleagues are all too aware of the bodily injuries that can result from a collision between a passenger vehicle and a commercial delivery truck or semi tractor-trailer. (We won’t even talk about the fatal consequences that face individuals who become involved in a motorcycle-related roadway accident that entails a collision between a large commercial motor vehicle and a much smaller motorcycle, scooter or bicycle.)
Being automobile accident lawyers, we have seen the aftermath of many a traffic accident, here in the Baltimore area as well as other parts of Maryland and the District of Columbia. There are few roadway wrecks that can truly match the deadly and frightening effects of an 18-wheeler striking a smaller family sedan, sport utility vehicle or minivan. Unfortunately, in this day and age, trucking-related traffic accidents are an unavoidable part of modern life in large metropolitan areas.
Sharing the roadway with box trucks, construction vehicles, city buses and big rigs is just par for the course for many Maryland drivers. Despite the dangers — and remembering that every year, thousands of innocent victims are killed or injured in commercial vehicle accidents — drivers and passengers must go about their lives in the hope that nothing bad will transpire while they are on the road.
But collisions with tractor-trailers and other large commercial motor vehicles are inevitable, each of us must simply drive and exercise as much caution as is humanly possible while avoiding situations that could result in a bad traffic wreck with one of these massive vehicles. There is no doubt that many drivers are intimidated by the sheer size and mass of most commercial trucks. Whether riding next to a automobile hauler, a large dump truck or a gasoline tanker, it seems that many drivers either ignore the dangers or put them out of their mind for the duration.
It is not until an accident happens that we all take stock in our own situation and thank our lucky stars that we have made it through another day without becoming just another statistic in the police accident log books.
One of the biggest contributing factors to commercial motor vehicle accidents is driver fatigue. And, for those who are unfamiliar with the frequency of trucking-related crashes, it is instructive to remember that although truckers are professional drivers, they are also human beings with human limitations. This is why commercial truck drivers and the companies for whom they work are required to adhere to numerous state and federal safety regulations; not to least of which include rules on maximum hours on the road and resting intervals.
Although federal safety regulations specify the number of hours a driver can operate his or her vehicle before taking a mandatory sleep break, there are some trucking companies that reportedly offer monetary incentives to drivers who deliver their loads on time or earlier. Despite the safety risks, many drivers have been known to exceed the federally-mandated hours of service (49 CFR Part 395), which puts limits on when and how long commercial motor vehicle drivers may operate their trucks.
If a trucking accident happens because a driver was over-tired or otherwise compromised, and if it can be proven that the driver had violated those rules may, there may be enough evidence to hold the driver liable in the wake of a serious injury or fatal traffic accident.
For these reasons alone, it is important to contact a qualified personal injury attorney to understand one’s rights under the law. Certainly when one is seriously injured, or if a family member has been killed as a result of a truck driver’s negligence, there is not excuse not to consult an experienced automobile and trucking accident lawyer to better understand one’s circumstances.