Imagine working a job that requires you to put in 80 or more hours a week. Now imagine working those hours while transporting thousands of pounds of cargo across the country, while driving roughly 2,500 miles a week to do so. Truck drivers are expected to put in long hours, with most if not all of them, spent alone. Fortunately, the Federal Government acknowledges the inherent risks and responsibilities that come with being a truck driver. In response, they established a host of guidelines to safeguard truck drivers and non-truck drivers alike.
Unfortunately however, truck accidents continue to occur despite laws that are meant to protect those who drive these large commercial vehicles, as well as those of us who depend on their services. In 2016 for example, there were over 3,800 fatal crashes involving commercial trucks across the United States. Southern California, the region that encompasses Orange County and other financially strategic areas, is home to one quarter of ALL port traffic in the United States. By definition, that means that Orange County (and its surrounding areas), deals with a massive amount of truck traffic, and the potential for truck-related accidents every single day.
Truck Accidents in Orange County
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2013, and updates its findings annually. The data that is collected is both eye-opening and speaks not only to what causes truck accidents in Orange County, but how we can prevent and decrease the frequency with which they occur.
Contributing Factors and Causes
Exhaustion and Long Hours On The Road
Truck drivers do not have the luxury of going to work in the morning and coming home at night; they travel, work, eat, and sleep in their rigs. The law limits how many consecutive hours they are allowed to drive, but having to drive 10 to 14 hours at a time, depending on how long they have been off duty, is still a really long time on the road. It is fair to say that any of us, no matter how much caffeine we ingested, would be exhausted after that much driving.
Limited Social Interaction
Though we all crave a little downtime or solitude every now and then, days and weeks with little to no “real time” interactions with others can take a toll on one's mental status. Researchers have found that many truck drivers experience a good deal of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. The Centers for Disease Control adds that these conditions often remain untreated and as such, result in high rates of suicide. In short, extreme and prolonged solitude weighs heavily on one's mental status, focus, and judgment.
Many truck drivers self-medicate with drugs, sex, food, and alcohol, all in order to stimulate their minds, stay awake, and feel good.These behaviors can cloud judgment, contribute to poor decision making, and impair impulse control. Drivers experiencing these conditions are quite obviously unsafe on the roads.
Truck drivers often make poor food choices because fast food and junk food are usually what is available to them. Prolonged consumption of foods that lack nutrients may spur brain fog, an inability to focus, and anger that can lead to road rage. For big-rig drivers, the phrase ‘you are what you eat' is true to a fault.
Drivers are required to deliver goods within a designated time frame. If they do not, they risk termination, financial penalties, and having to deal with irate customers. If the route they need is congested or slower than usual, drivers may speed up and then, put everyone at risk.
Human error is only one factor that contributes to truck accidents in Orange County. Mechanical defects can also wreak havoc.
Defective tires can be traced back to their manufacturer, but more often they are related to other things. When tires have been over or under-inflated, are old and dried out, not tightly secured to the truck chassis, or worn out from miles and miles of driving, they create conditions that can lead to a perfect, yet disastrous, storm.
Trucks take a beating on the road and often, drivers find themselves in stop-start, bumper to bumper traffic. When you factor in poor brake management and maintenance, cost-saving measures that include disconnecting tractor brakes, and carrying more than their rig can handle, it is no wonder that brake failure is the number one reason for truck accidents.
Additional Factors That Can Lead to Truck Accidents
Wet roads, accumulated snow, fog, and heavy winds can challenge even the most seasoned truck driver. Poorly lit highways, unmarked construction sites, and power outages can also contribute to truck accidents. If an insufficiently trained driver finds himself gliding over an oil slick, that too can prove calamitous in Orange County.
When Is It Time to Call a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Truck accidents in Orange County can cause physical and emotional anguish. Physically, injured parties may experience traumatic brain injury, damaged internal organs, nerve pain, and loss of limbs. Psychologically, accident victims are likely to experience anxiety, fear, heightened sensitivity to stimuli, and post traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, these types of accidents can also lead to rather untimely deaths, too.
When you call a truck accident lawyer in Orange County, you will have someone on your side who can advocate for appropriate compensation and fairly determine who is responsible to pay your medical bills. Having a truck accident lawyer in Orange County who values your quality of life, ability to work, and desire to regain independence will help you heal in more ways than one.