Traffic accidents involving semi-tractor trailers claim thousands of lives each year in West Virginia and around the country. However, the vast majority of these deaths occur in crashes that could have been avoided. Driver error is the most common cause of truck accidents, but it is passenger vehicle drivers who are to blame more than 80% of the time. Common mistakes that lead to fatal truck crashes include not maintaining a safe distance, changing lanes without signaling and reckless maneuvers born out of impatience.
Other common causes of truck accidents include poor maintenance, equipment failure, badly loaded cargo and trucker fatigue. Many tractor-trailer crashes occur as a result of a combination of these factors. A safety system that has not been properly maintained could fail at a crucial time, and a truck driver who has remained behind the wheel longer than federal hours of survive regulations allow may not be capable of taking evasive action in an emergency.
Road safety experts believe that emerging truck safety technologies could reduce the annual tractor-trailer death toll significantly. Sensors placed in trailers could alert truck drivers when cargo has been loaded incorrectly, and automatic emergency braking systems may be able to prevent deadly rear-end collisions. Systems have also been developed that monitor truck drivers for signs of fatigue or distraction.
Electronic data is sometimes used to establish negligence in truck accident lawsuits. For example, electronic hours of service logs could reveal that a truck driver was likely fatigued when they lost control of their vehicle. Tractor-trailer inspections could also uncover signs of inadequate maintenance or repairs that were made using substandard parts. An attorney could use such evidence to help a crash victim get a fair settlement for a personal injury claim.