The Illinois Truck Accident Attorneys at Schwaner Injury Law are here to help with your injury. A passenger vehicle is no match for a commercial truck, which can be 10 times the size of a small car and much slower to stop if there are road hazards to contend with while en route to the driver’s next stop.
Commercial truck drivers average about 100,000 miles a year, often under hazardous conditions.
Truck Accident Risk Factors in Illinois
There are several factors that elevate the risk for a potentially catastrophic truck accident, including:
- Truck driver fatigue. According to the Department of Transportation, between 3,000 and 4,000 people die in crashes with large commercial vehicles including semis and buses, and 13 percent of those deaths were caused by tired drivers. Driver fatigue leads to a slower response time, and despite rules in place to keep drivers from being behind the wheel for longer than 8 hours at a stretch, many disregard those rules, one driver told National Public Radio. “The big accidents happen because the driver was up for 36 hours straight,” said driver Janessa Mann. “Your brain can’t handle that.”
- Driving under the influence of drugs. While it is impossible to definitively determine how many truck drivers are driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, attorneys from neighbor to the north Michigan estimate that as many as 200,000 commercial truck drivers are believed to be driving under the influence of drugs. The most commonly used by truckers include alcohol, stimulants, marijuana and cocaine, according to one study.
- Distracted driving. Many car accidents are caused when drivers look away from the road for a minute to answer their phone or respond to a text. In 2007, and Illinois teen was killed when she lost control of her SUV while texting and driving. Despite a federal ban that have been in place since 2010, texting is still one reason for distracted driving, although using a GPS system, eating and drinking, or talking on a cell phone can also be distractions for drivers, who are significantly more dangerous than drivers of passenger vehicles, not only because of the larger size, but also because it takes those larger vehicles more time to come to a complete stop, making them significantly more dangerous.
- Driving aggressively or unsafely for weather conditions. In Illinois, dangerous driving conditions can occur in an instant. At one moment, the sun is shining and roads are clear, but make a stop for coffee or a lunch break, and by the time you come out, your vehicle can be covered with a slick coating of snow, sleet or freezing rain. Driving too fast or developing road rage when weather turns icy can be treacherous for any driver, but for tractor-trailers, the consequences can be dangerous and deadly.
- Failure to maintain equipment. A truck that has faulty equipment is unsafe on the road. A tire can explode, unchecked brakes can fail, or lights can go out, making it impossible for other drivers to see a semi on the road. All equipment failures can put a tractor-trailer at serious risk of an accident that can cause injury to innocent drivers.
Where Does Truck Accident Law Apply?
Truck accident law covers all personal injuries that occur to those in a passenger vehicle as a result of an accident involving a commercial tractor-trailer.
Because the laws are complex – and trucking companies can be large, making a lone driver feel at their mercy – a good attorney is vital to help ensure that if negligence occurs, the right party will be held liable for their actions.
Local and state traffic laws as well as regulations associated with the Department of Transportation Truck and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will apply.
What Will Trucking Lawyers Do?
The most important role a lawyer handling a tractor-trailer accident has is the tracking of evidence, including the semi’s black box, which much like an airplane black box, can store evidence about what was happening during the crash that can provide vital clues into what actually caused it.
In addition to using a subpoena to access cell phone records, a trucking lawyer will obtain the following evidence:
- Log books. Many truck drivers keep two sets of log books – one for their employer, tracking their actual hours, and one for authorities, which will be faked to comply with both federal and state driving laws.
- Toll receipts. Toll receipts will be time stamped, so they will help determine whether or not a driver has been on the road for too long.
- Fuel receipts. Fuel receipts will also be time stamped, helping determine distance traveled and time spent on the road.
- GPS tracking records. A GPS system will help prove which route a driver traveled, and when used in conjunction with other evidence can help create a solid case that proves how long a driver was on the road.