AR motorists should be cautious when driving around tractor trailers

Large truck accidents take the lives of thousands of Americans each year and are often caused by truck driver fatigue and distraction.

Although Arkansas residents rely on large tractor trailers to transport vital goods around the state and across the country, these massive vehicles present a significant danger to many motorists on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,802 people were killed in large truck accidents in 2012 nationwide and 85 deaths occurred in Arkansas. NBC News reported that an additional 104,000 people were injured in a commercial vehicle accident that same year.

These fatalities and injuries can be attributed to a variety of problems, including truck driver fatigue, distracted driving and equipment malfunction. As the American economy continues to improve and more tractor trailers populate the nation's freeways, the number of devastating commercial truck accidents is expected to grow.

Fatigued truck drivers

The American Trucking Association explains how there are 35,000 truck driver positions that remain unfilled in the U.S. With a growing amount of freight that needs to be distributed across the country, skilled truck drivers are in high demand. Many truck drivers are under a substantial amount of pressure to get their freight delivered on time, enticing some drivers to spend more time behind the wheel. These fatigued truck drivers are more likely to cause traumatic truck accidents.

In an attempt to reduce the number of fatigued truck drivers on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces the Hours of Service regulations, which restrict the amount of time truck operators can spend driving. These regulations limit truck drivers to an 11-hour work day and a 70-hour work week. Drivers are required to take a half hour break within the first eight hours of their shift. The FMCSA also mandates that drivers who work a full 70-hour week, rest for at least 34 consecutive hours before hitting the open road.

Distracted truck drivers

In addition to regulating the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel, the FMCSA has also enacted federal legislation banning truckers from operating cellular devices while driving. It is prohibited for truck drivers to talk on a hand-held cellphone or text while driving, as these practices are dangerous forms of distracted driving. Not only do electronic devices remove a truck driver's focus off of the road, but cellphones have been shown to decrease a driver's reaction time as well. If drivers are faced with a hazardous situation, such as inclement weather conditions, an object in the road or another driver's erratic behavior, their response time can be significantly impaired.

Finding legal counsel

People who have been involved in traumatic commercial truck accidents may suffer from chronic injuries due to the collision or may have lost a loved one as a result of truck driver negligence. An attorney can offer vital legal counsel to those seeking compensation for their injuries or loss.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury