- Richard L. Duquette
Why Do Trucks & Bicycles Collide?
Over 5,000 trucking accidents result in fatalities each year. Over 700 bicyclists are killed each year, many by trucks. Let’s talk about why….Simply stated, trucking companies often place profits over safety.
Causes of Truck Accidents:
Over 51% of trucking accidents involve driver fatigue. Truck drivers get paid to produce. Their fatigue can be proven by reviewing driver log books, fuel receipts and meal vouchers. Sometimes drivers carry two sets of books; the one turned in for pay and the real one kept in the tractor if inspected by a police officer. Truckers can drive up to 16 hours a day, but often alternate hours off and compile 60 hours driving in less than five days.
b. Blind Spots
Another big problem, even if the driver has properly inspected, adjusted and used “West Coast” tripod fender mirrors, is that cyclists don’t “appear” on the passenger side of the tractor. This is because the driver can’t see through and below his passenger side cab, or in front of his mirrors. There is a saying “if you can’t see the truck driver in his mirror, he can’t see you.” Illegal lane changes into blind spots can be solved by the truck driver:
1. Adjusting his speed,
2. Having a spotter.
3 . Obtaining “West Coast” mirrors.
4. Signal well in advance of a turn.
5. Improved training.
c. Following to Close & Speeding
At 55 mph, an 18 wheeler, depending on their load (i.e. 0-80,000 pounds), takes 300 feet to stop. Perception, reaction and braking are factors in stopping.
At 40 mph, a truck travels about 60 feet per second and needs four seconds to stop. Over 40 mph, a truck needs at least five seconds to stop.
d. Poor Equipment
Over 30 % of truck accidents are brake related. Their air brakes and hoses wear out. That’s why they have highway “pull outs” into sand banks. Also tire separation and blow outs are often related to overloaded, poorly inspected and maintained trucks.
e. Drunk Driving
You would be surprised how often truck drivers drink and drive commercial trucks. The low legal blood alcohol level limits make it easier for the victims to show mental or physical driver impairment.
Keep your distance from trucks. Wait till they pass you. Never assume they see you. If injured, hire an experienced bicycle trial lawyer, who has handled many truck and bicycle injury cases. I have prosecuted and defended truck drivers who have violated the law – which gives me an advantage. I know how to investigate these cases and what experts to hire to prove fault and damages – even if it’s an out of state case. This experience helps me negotiate fair settlements for clients. Should you need a Jury Trial, I have and will argue your case to a verdict to get justice.
Truck driving tips and the legal rules of the road are listed on my website www.911law.com. The Federal truck laws are codified in the Federal motor carrier safety regulations (title 49, parts 350-399), and govern vehicles engaged in interstate traffic.
Ride Safe – Ride Strong!
Mr. Duquette is a local Oceanside, California Personal Injury Trial Attorney who since 1983 has mixed law with his love of Bicycling and Surfing from Baja to Bali. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and has a Web page at www.911law.com. His phone number is (760) 730-0500.