Causes of Truck Accidents in Michigan
Truck drivers have a legal and professional obligation to exercise caution and due care in the operation of their vehicles. Because of the potential danger that commercial vehicles pose to others on the road, trucking is regulated at both the federal and state levels to ensure public safety. For example, the number of hours a truck driver may be on the road in a day and the hours that a truck driver must be off the road between shifts are regulated by the government. Truck drivers must also keep daily logs of their activities, including the number of hours they drive and number of hours at rest. Trucks must also be properly inspected and maintained. If a truck driver violates any of these trucking rules and regulations, it may result in said driver being negligent and causing an accident. The following are some of the common causes of truck accidents.
Reckless driving and speeding
Failing to adhere to the speed limit and drive according to road conditions is dangerous no matter who is driving, but there may be even more dire consequences if a large truck fails to drive accordingly. Because of its size, it is more difficult to control these larger trucks. For example, it can be very difficult for trucks that size to brake suddenly — they must begin the braking process from a distance much further than the typical vehicle. This must be taken into account when roads are not otherwise clear — i.e., when there is snow, ice, or even when it has been raining. Given the limitations of these large trucks, it may be prudent for others on the road to give extra space or otherwise adjust their driving behaviors to accommodate them. Between their size, the difficulties in controlling them, and their visibility limitations, truck drivers should also ensure they too are driving in a way that is appropriate for the conditions they encounter, keeping in mind that they are sharing the road with much smaller vehicles.
Failure to maintain vehicle, resulting in tire failure, brake failure, and other serious problems
Drivers of large trucks are required to conduct inspections of their vehicles before embarking on their journeys. Maintenance records are also required to be kept by motor carrier/employer for a certain period of time provided for by regulation. Failing to keep these large trucks in proper working order is not only illegal, but may result in an accident causing substantial property damage, serious personal injury, or even loss of life.
Driver fatigue and sleepiness
In an attempt to decrease levels of driver fatigue and sleepiness which may lead to an increased number of accidents, a number of rules and regulations have been promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Some of these regulations provide that:
- drivers not drive without first taking ten (10) consecutive hours off duty;
- drivers only drive during a fourteen (14) consecutive hour period after coming on duty following ten (10) consecutive hours off duty;
- drivers not drive after the end of a 14-consecutive hour period without taking 10 consecutive hours off;
- drivers drive a total of 11 hours during the 14 hour period;
- with specific exceptions provided within the regulations, no driving is permitted if more than eight (8) hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes;
- motor carriers neither permit nor require their drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles to drive after:
- having been on duty 60 hours in any period of seven (7) consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week, or
- having been on duty 70 hours in any period of eight (8) consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week;
- drivers keep detailed logs noting the following:
- whether the driver is on or off duty,
- for each change of duty status, noting the name of the location where the change of status took place,
- the date,
- total miles driven on a particular day,
- truck or tractor and trailer number,
- name of carrier,
- driver’s signature/certification,
- 24-hour period starting time,
- main office address,
- name of co-driver,
- total hours, and
- shipping document number(s), or name of shipper and commodity.
The information detailed above only highlights a number of potential causes of truck accidents in Michigan and the rules that exist to limit them – it is by no means an exhaustive list. Given the numerous rules and regulations that cover trucking cases, pursuing a claim against a trucking company after an accident may become overwhelming very quickly. For that reason, it may be helpful to consult with a trusted Michigan trucking accident attorney who can assist you in navigating the complications of the system.