By Matt Lalande in Trucking Accidents on June 12, 2021
The majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver error, and trucking accidents in particular are often caused by unsafe driving acts. In Canada, approximately 70-75% of truck-car collisions are caused by an unsafe driving act by the car, and 25-30% are caused by an unsafe act performed by the truck driver. However, regardless of who is at fault, someone will inevitably become seriously or catastrophically injured when a collision occurs, and more often than not, collisions can be avoidable.
Trucking accidents between cars and trucks tend to be more severe than collisions between other types of vehicles, and come with more severe consequences. According to the OPP, In 2019, there were 8,432 truck accidents just on Ontario’s highways, with 96 deaths caused by those accidents. The year before that, in 2018, there were 7,719 truck accidents and 62 deaths.
The following unsafe driving acts could be performed by either driver in a trucking accident, and should always be avoided regardless of the circumstances. Our Trucking Accident Lawyers have seen many examples of careless negligence that leaves a devastating impact on a victim’s life, and we believe safe driving is always the best choice.
In many areas of Canada, distracted driving has surpassed impaired driving as the leading cause of motor vehicle accident fatalities (according to CAA). Driver inattention can triple the chances of an accident, and it takes just a few seconds of looking away to cause a potentially life-threatening collision with a truck. A truck does not have the same amount of time to stop suddenly as the driver of a car does due to the sheer size and weight difference – a fully loaded semi truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average car weighs up to 4,000 pounds.
Fatigued driving is a well known issue among truck drivers. Delivery deadlines can put substantial pressure on a truck driver to get to their destination on time, which often results in the driver cutting their rest time short or skipping rest breaks. Fatigued driving leads to slower reaction time, less focus and alertness overall, and lower coordination. In fact, studies have shown that being awake for more than 18 hours can impair a driver’s cognitive skills to the equivalent of having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, and 24 hours or longer is equivalent to 0.10% (two times the legal limit).
In an online survey conducted by Belairdirect in 2017, 31% of Canadian drivers admitted to having driven through a red light, and 29% admitted to having disobeyed road signs. This equates to three in ten drivers committing unsafe driving acts based on traffic signs and signals alone. When someone opts to disobey a traffic sign, other drivers on the road, especially truck drivers, are not prepared to react suddenly when they have the right of way. For trucks, this can be disastrous as the size limitations prevent the ability to immediately stop.
Of the 8,432 truck collisions reported by the OPP in Ontario in 2019, 1,249 were attributed to speeding. The pressure of arriving at a destination on time is a big factor that leads to speeding for truck drivers, but the size of a truck poses dangerous conditions at an increased speed. Driving too fast in either a truck or a car can cause a driver to easily lose control, leading to serious roll-over accidents, jackknife accidents, and head-on collisions.
As previously mentioned, a truck cannot stop as quickly as a car due to the massive size and weight difference. Two of the biggest sudden maneuvers that can cause a trucking accident occur when motor vehicle drivers suddenly brake in front of a truck or abruptly change lanes and cut off the truck. When a truck driver is following a car too closely and a car makes a sudden stop, such as for traffic or to avoid a hazard in front of them, the truck driver will not have enough time to avoid rear-ending the car. Alternatively, when a car follows a truck too closely, they aren’t able to see any upcoming hazards or obstacles that the truck may need to stop for.
In any season, there are weather conditions that play a role in safe driving practices, such as driving slowly on icy roads or using fog lights after a rainfall. Driving without headlights at night is another unsafe driving act that could put all vehicles at risk. As cars are more difficult for truck drivers to see in the first place, not using headlights makes it even more difficult for truckers to spot smaller vehicles early enough to avoid a crash.
Too often, motor vehicle drivers forget that a truck can’t simply stop abruptly when they are cut off. Merging too closely to a truck, passing a truck and driving in their blind spot, and cutting a truck off to sneak into a lane are all dangerous and unsafe driving acts that could end up with potentially life-threatening or fatal consequences. Trucks also need to exercise caution when merging or making lane changes, ensuring that they have enough distance to safely cross without hitting a car. It’s common for cars to end up in a truck’s blind spot when they are attempting to merge, which could cause the car to become crushed beside the truck or even underneath it.
Most Canadians understand the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving a car or driving a car while under the influence of drugs. According to MADD, over 50% of collision fatalities are caused by impaired driving. A truck driver is responsible for a vehicle that requires significantly more control, attention, and focus than a car. Therefore, when the driver of a truck is impaired, the risk of an accident increases substantially and the consequences can be extremely devastating for everyone involved.
A “right-turn squeeze” occurs when a truck driver makes a right turn and fails to leave enough space between the truck and the curb. Sometimes the truck driver may end up swinging out too far into the left lane to do this. Drivers behind the truck often mistake this movement for a lane change and do not realize the truck is turning, and accelerate into the newly open space. As a result, the car can become crushed or wedged underneath the truck.
Trucking accidents can lead to severe, devastating consequences. Since 2003, trucking accident lawyer Matt Lalande has worked with victims with a variety of life-changing, catastrophic, and tragic injuries caused by trucking accidents. If you or a loved one has been in a trucking accident and has suffered severe injuries, contact us today no matter where youa are in Ontario by calling us toll free at 1-888-LALANDE or local in the Hamilton/GTA/Niagara areas at 905-333-8888. Our Trucking Accident Lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations and will be happy to answer all of your questions.