A road accident can be a traumatic ordeal, but when it involves a truck or a big rig, the implications are far more severe. The sheer size of a tractor-trailer amplifies the potential for catastrophic damage, making the need for stringent safety regulations and guidelines paramount.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently rolled out new safety rules that impact truck drivers nationwide. These new mandates aim to curb the number of collisions and fatalities involving large vehicles while bolstering overall driver safety.
These laws come after a long push for increased safety regulations in the trucking industry, as fatalities have risen for eight straight years. The new laws mark a significant shift in trucking regulations and have the potential to dramatically enhance road safety.
Why are these rules so important? And what does it mean for you? Let’s take a look at the disturbing trucking accident statistics that prompted these new laws, what the new rules aim to accomplish, and what to do after an accident with a truck.
Tractor Trailer Crash Statistics
A 2018 report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that truck-involved fatalities had risen 28.2% since 2009, to 4,761 lives lost in 2017. Furthermore, a study found that the number of people killed in large trucks has more than doubled since the 1970s. In addition to these deaths, many others are injured in collisions with big rigs every year.
Pennsylvania has also witnessed its share of the troubling rise in tractor-trailer accident injuries and fatalities. Recent data highlights a concerning pattern, with the state experiencing a notable escalation in crashes involving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
In 2021, Pennsylvania recorded 162 fatalities stemming from accidents involving heavy trucks. This placed the state among the top ten in the nation for truck-related fatalities, signifying a pressing issue that demands immediate attention and targeted interventions to curtail the growing risks on its roads.
Understanding New Truck Safety Laws
Given the rise in both national and state-wide truck accident injuries and fatalities, new rules are in place to help increase safety and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries. Three specific rules that are helpful to understand are: the requirement for drivers to use an ELD, or electronic logging device; a 30% reduction in stopping distance; and an improvement to vehicle lighting.
Electronic Logging Device Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has adopted a rule requiring truck drivers to use an electronic logging device (ELD). These devices record a driver’s hours, how many miles they travel, and any other pertinent information related to their work on the road. This measure is designed to ensure compliance with limits on driving hours, thus reducing the risk of fatigued driving.
Reduced Stopping Distance Requirements
Another new rule requires a vast majority of new heavy truck tractors to achieve a 30% reduction in stopping distance compared to currently required levels. This significant decrease in stopping distance could potentially prevent many accidents caused by delayed braking.
For example, drivers must reduce braking distance from 60 feet to 30 feet when traveling at a speed of 40 mph or less. This means that if a trucker applies his brake at 40 mph or slower, he or she must be able to stop the truck within a distance of 30 feet. This will help reduce collisions and increase overall safety on the roads.
Improved Vehicle Lighting
Another way that the FMCSA is working to improve safety on all roads is by requiring improved vehicle lighting. The new standards require commercial trucks to have brighter and more visible headlights, taillights, and brake lights to make them easier for other drivers to spot in low-visibility situations.
These rules also mandate that all reflective materials used on commercial vehicles must meet certain standards for brightness and visibility at night. By increasing visibility, these measures can help prevent accidents caused by poor visibility conditions because of weather or darkness.
What to Do After an Accident with a Truck
If you are ever involved in an accident with a commercial truck, it is important to know what steps to take next to not only keep safe during and after the accident, but to also protect your rights if you are injured.
Here are steps to take after an accident:
- Call 911: Immediately call 911 after the accident and make sure to provide as much information about the other vehicle (truck) as possible.
- Document the Scene: Take pictures of the scene, including any visible damage to both vehicles and surrounding property.
- Talk to Witnesses: If there were any witnesses to the accident, make sure to get their contact information. Ask them if they saw what happened and take notes of what they saw. If possible, ask the witnesses to write their account of the accident or take a video of their statement. This can be used as evidence in court to prove who was at fault for the accident.
- Get Medical Help: If you or anyone else involved is injured, seek medical attention right away. It’s important to document your injuries to get fair compensation from the truck company or driver if they are at fault for the accident. Even if you feel you are not injured, it’s important to see a doctor after the accident. Some injuries such as whiplash or internal bruising are not immediately noticeable.
- Contact an Attorney: Contact an attorney who focuses on personal injury law so that you can protect your rights and get fair compensation for any injuries suffered during the accident. Truck accident cases can be complicated, especially because large trucking companies usually have plenty of financial and legal resources at their disposal and will begin protecting themselves immediately after an accident occurs.
When accidents happen, trucking companies know a lot is at stake, and they often deploy their own team of lawyers and investigators to ensure they limit their liability. When dealing with a truck accident, it’s important to bring in a truck accident attorney right away so they can help preserve evidence, protect your rights and get the absolute maximum value for you for your bodily injury claim.
Truck Crash Personal Injury Law Firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Any truck accident can lead to severe injuries, financial strain from medical bills, lost wages, and immense physical and emotional suffering. As an accident victim, you have the right to fair compensation to reduce your financial and emotional stress. At times like these, it’s crucial to have a partner like Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. on your side.
Our dedicated attorneys are ready to help. With a track record of success, having won over 99% of our cases and recovered more than $90,000,000.00 for our clients, we are committed to helping accident victims like you navigate through complex truck accident claims.
We understand the intricate nature of truck accident cases and the importance of a thorough investigation and preservation of evidence to hold commercial drivers and trucking companies accountable for their actions. We possess the resources, experience and knowledge necessary to ensure that those responsible for any negligence, carelessness, or recklessness on the road are held accountable.
Each truck accident personal injury claim is unique, and the specifics surrounding the incident require careful consideration. Contact our team either at 1-800-HURT-NOW or online for a free consultation and review of your case. We will never collect a fee for our time unless we win your case.