It seems like it happens once every couple of weeks on the highways in and around Waterbury, Danbury, New Haven and Stamford—multiple lanes are blocked due to a truck accident or spill. Yet, it never feels routine. Drive times triple and the accidents leave innocent drivers suffering from serious injuries, and sometimes much worse. Of course, until serious action is taken to reign in reckless and negligent driving by truck drivers, this will continue. I want to make it clear that not all truck drivers are bad or reckless drivers. Most truck drivers are highly skilled hard working people. Hundreds and hundreds of trucks pass through Connecticut without any issue. Yet, all it takes is one accident near the mix-master in Waterbury to snarl traffic for hours and cause injuries to innocent drivers.
For the times when these accidents occur, what are the causes that we should know about? How about illicit drug use, including prescription drug abuse? Drug use and intoxication are the most prominent factors in large truck crashes, according to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2007. Over 120,000 large trucks, which are defined as weighing over 10,000 lbs, crashed within the United States between 2001 and 2003. In this 33 month period, a sample of 963 collisions was used to compile data for this Large Truck Accident Study conducted in 2007.
Drug use is not the only major cause for these types of collisions. Speeding was found to have attributed to 23 percent of the sample chosen in the Causation Study, while 22 percent claimed that the ‘unfamiliar area’ had caused their crash. In total, 87 percent of all nation-wide crashes are credited to the truck driver.
According to The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the implementation of new ‘crash avoidance’ technology could prevent over 100,000 collisions every year and save an estimated 835 lives annually, however the implementation of these newer technologies is slow.
Here is a breakdown of the major causes of big rig crashes in the Large Truck Causation Study:
1. Drug Use – 26 percent of the sample group attributed the cause of the crash to be illicit or prescription drug use.
2. Speeding – 24 percent of the sample group claimed speeding to be a major factor in causing the crash.
3. Unfamiliar Environment – 22 percent of the sample group said that a lack of knowledge of the roads and area caused a critical role in the crash
4. Over-the-Counter Medication – in 18 percent of the sample group, the driver was under the influence of over-the-counter medication
5. Blind Spots – 14 percent of the sample group failed to properly check their blind spots and therefore caused an ‘accident’
6. Driver Fatigue – 13 percent of the sample group attributed their crash to being over-tired. In fact, The Research Institute found that after 8 hours of driving, a large truck driver becomes twice as likely to crash
7. Signaling – 9 percent of the sample group did not properly use their signal while changing lanes
8. Distractions – 8 percent of the sample group was distracted while operating their ‘big rig.’
9. Poor Maneuverability – 7 percent of the sample group was unable to evade an obstacle in time, leading to a crash
10. Aggressive Driving – 7 percent of the sample group attributed their crash to road rage/ aggressive driving
Local factors can contribute to such accidents. For example, Connecticut’s major highways, I-95, I-84 and I-91 were never designed to absorb the increasing volume of traffic on Connecticut’s roads each year. In most areas of I-84 between Danbury and Waterbury there are only two lanes of traffic on this interstate. So I would add these road conditions as suggestions that truck drivers should take into account when they are driving through Connecticut.
If you or someone you know is one of the hundreds of thousands of unfortunate people involved in a serious accident where you received significant injuries, you deserve compensation. I am here to answer any questions you have and give legal advice concerning personal injury cases.