Collisions involving trucks, particularly heavy or large trucks, commonly result in more severe injury or fatality for the occupants of smaller and lighter motor vehicles. According to a 2013 Ontario traffic report, truck accidents were the second highest category of road fatalities, causing 92 deaths. While there are many large vehicles that fall under the definition of a truck, including buses, emergency service trucks, tanker trucks, semi-trucks as well as numerous construction vehicles, most truck accidents involve commercial trucks, which often carry very heavy cargo and sometimes even hazardous materials.
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation defines a commercial truck as one with a gross weight of more than 4,500 kilograms (kg). There are many laws commercial truck drivers must adhere to, in order to ensure their safety as well as the safety of other road users, such as compliance with the regulations governing commercial truck operation. Officers from the Ministry of Transportation and police officers conduct inspections to decide whether or not the vehicle is safe and being driven by a qualified driver. If a truck is deemed unsafe, it will likely be prohibited from being used until the necessary repairs and changes are made. Failure to comply can carry a heavy fine.
Other laws related to commercial trucks include mandatory use of electronic speed limiters. The speed limiter should not exceed 105 km/h, or the driver is determined to be speeding which is illegal. Drivers must also keep a log of their time and hours of service. Commercial truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 13 hours straight in one day or drive after being on-duty for 14 hours (even if some of that time did not include active driving). This is to minimize the danger of fatigue in truck drivers which as noted below, can be a significant problem in the trucking industry. Finally, drivers who are transporting dangerous goods must meet five basic requirements to continue doing so.
Owing to their sheer size, truck accidents are often fatal or at least very serious for any occupants of a smaller vehicle, which is why drivers need to pay particular attention to safe practices. Unfortunately, there are many negligent actions by drivers that can contribute to a higher incidence of truck collisions and resulting injuries.
Driving Under the Influence – DUI is one of the most common and leading causes of traffic accidents and truck drivers also sometimes drive while impaired. Driving under the influence of any type of alcohol or drugs can significantly impair a driver’s judgement and ability to drive safely. This is particularly problematic for drivers of trucks, because they require extra care and focus, due to their size, maneuverability and braking time.
Speeding – Speeding is also a very common cause of traffic accidents. Not only is it illegal, but it is dangerous as it makes it more difficult to stop suddenly when required. As in the case of impaired driving, speeding is problematic for drivers of large trucks because they are more difficult to maneuver, making it harder to slow down in time and avoid a collision or accident.
Failure To Check Blind Spot – Due to their size and height, it is particularly important for truck drivers to always check their blind spot and be aware of where other vehicles are on the road, at any given time. Failure to do so can often result in very serious highway accidents which typically involves other motor vehicles.
Distracted Driving – Drivers need to be focused, alert and aware when driving and failure to do so can result in tragic accidents. Distracted driving, which includes actions such as texting while driving, talking on the phone, eating, etc., is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents, including truck accidents.
Fatigue – Many commercial truck drivers travel long distances and often drive for hours, sometimes overnight and eventually, fatigue becomes an issue. Severe fatigue can impair a driver’s ability just as badly as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and it can be just as dangerous. Truck drivers have been known to fall asleep behind the wheel which can result in devastating injury for other road users in the resultant crash.
Road Rage – Due to their sheer size, trucks can take up a lot of space, which sometimes slows down other motorists. This can create frustration which sometimes leads to anger and road rage from other motorists, directed towards truck drivers who then respond in kind. Road rage can result in major collisions and accidents when it causes drivers to make poor choices such as tailgating, unsafe passing, or making rude gestures while driving.
At Injury Lawyers of Ontario, our experienced team of personal injury lawyers have successfully represented many victims of truck accidents, whether resulting from negligence on the part of the truck driver or another driver. Anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident is entitled to make a claim for statutory accident benefits on the vehicle owner's insurance policy. When an accident resulted from a reckless or negligent action by one or more drivers, then the injured person may also file a civil suit for damages against the 'at fault' driver(s). 'Damages' entails compensation for any losses that resulted from injury, including loss of income, medical and rehabilitation costs, house keeping and home maintenance expenses, and pain and suffering.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a motor vehicle accident, please do not hesitate to call us today. We will gladly provide you a frank assessment of your case and your best legal options for claiming fair compensation.