The Akron-Canton-Youngstown area has a manufacturing tradition that goes back many generations. As a result, it has long been one of the riskiest places in the state for accidents involving tractor-trailers or other large commercial trucks.
But an improving economy, a de-emphasis on federal regulations and a trucker shortage are combining to increase the risk of trucking accidents throughout Northeastern Ohio.
After declining by nearly one-third during the downturn, fatal crashes involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks are up more than 20 percent since 2009. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported more than 4,300 fatal accidents involving large trucks and buses in 2015, an 8 percent year-over-year increase.
These cases should always be handled by an Akron injury lawyer experienced in handling commercial truck accident litigation. These are complex cases involving state and federal laws, out-of-state insurance companies and multiple responsible parties, including trucking companies, truck drivers, freight owners and third-party logistics companies.
Staying Safe Around Large Trucks
The Ohio Department of Transportation recently reported 5 driving tips for staying safe around tractor-trailers on the road.
- Avoid blind spots: If you cannot see a truck driver's side mirrors, he or she cannot see your vehicle. Allowing plenty of clear distance is especially important when a truck is backing, turning or changing lanes.
- Pass promptly: Don't linger alongside a tractor-trailer. Congress is considering mandating side-impact guards to prevent passenger vehicles from traveling beneath tractor-trailers. But especially while those regulations are pending, your safest bet is to give these big rigs plenty of room.
- Keep a safe distance: Rear underride is a risk when drivers follow too closely. Following behind a trailer also impedes a driver's view of traffic signals or other road risks ahead.
- Give them time: Trucks need plenty of room to stop. In some cases, drivers will cut off a truck and then attempt to stop abruptly for a changing traffic signal. If a trucker cannot get stopped, you are likely to get run over.
- Avoid distraction: In many cases, distraction eliminates a driver's ability to react or slows reaction time. Either can prove deadly when operating around large trucks.
Liability for Ohio Trucking Accidents
Determining who is responsible for a collision involving a tractor-trailer or large commercial vehicle is a complicated process. Injury attorneys experienced in handling commercial trucking accident lawsuits will look at a trucker's compliance with federal Hours of Service regulations as well as state and federal distracted driving laws. A trucker's driving record and the maintenance and repair logs of the tractor and trailer should also be carefully reviewed.
The truth of the matter is that studies continue to show that dangerous behavior on the part of truckers is a primary driver of serious and fatal accidents. The nationwide trucker shortage exacerbates the risks as trucking companies continue to employ younger, inexperienced operators or those with marginal driving records.
Top causes of trucking accidents include driving too fast for conditions, fatigue, illegal maneuvers, following too closely, unsafe or shifting cargo, distraction or inattention, mechanical issues and alcohol and drug use. Data recorders and speed limiters could reduce two primary causes (speeding and fatigued driving), but federal regulators have been slow to mandate them and the trucking industry has only sporadically adopted such safety improvements.
In the event of a truck accident, you should seek the advocacy of an experienced attorney. Contact Gervelis Law Firm and find out how we can help.