Approximately 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year in the United States. Out of these accidents, approximately 5,000 of them result in fatalities. It is estimated 9 percent of all large truck crashes involve rollovers. As a truck driver, it is important to stay as safe as possible while driving your truck and trailer. Here are three common causes of truck rollovers and what you can do to prevent them.
Driving Too Fast
A recent analysis of large truck rollovers was completed in 2002 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In this study, speed was found as the number one reason for rollover crashes at 45 percent of the crashes in the study. This analysis looked at a sample which involved 967 crashes, which included 1,127 large trucks, 959 non-truck motor vehicles, 251 fatalities, and 1,408 injuries. When these numbers are projected nationally, it is estimated 141,000 large trucks would have been involved in crashes, including 13,000 rollovers.
It is important to take into consideration your vehicle's situation and the road conditions when deciding how fast you can safely drive. As a driver, you should learn to analyze each driving situation to make a safe trip. Make sure you are not in a hurry. Also, don't always follow the posted speed limit as it does not always apply to the road conditions and the load you are hauling.
Not Completing Pre-Trip Inspection
Before you can drive off with your truck and trailer, you need to do an important safety check around the truck to make sure it is safe to drive. This will help you catch problems that can lead to an accident, preventing a rollover. Most states actually require you to pass a pre-trip inspection test before you can get your commercial drivers license. As you complete each of the checks on the pre-trip inspection, it can be helpful to use a hands-on approach and not just visually inspect each part.
During a pre-trip inspection, you first need to look at the truck's overall exterior safety. Look at all the major hoses on the truck, including checking their condition. Look for any hose cracks or wear and look for puddles on the ground or fluids that may be dripping from them. Then, check all major fluid levels, such as oil and power steering fluid. It is important to also check the truck's power steering belt, the water pump belt, alternator belt, and air compressor belt. Touch each belt to make sure it fits well and is not cracked or frayed.
Inside the cab of the truck, make sure the clutch or gearshift is working properly and the oil pressure gauge is working. Then, make sure all the mirrors and windshields are clean and not cracked and have no obstructions blocking their view. If your truck does not have power steering, make sure the steering wheel moves within the normal range. The emergency equipment needs to be in the cab, including spare electrical fuses, at least three reflective triangles, and a fully charged fire extinguisher.
Account for Your Load Size and Weight
One quarter of speed-related rollover accidents occurred because a truck driver did not adjust their driving to the load they were carrying. You need to be aware of the load you are hauling and reduce your speed more when your load is higher and heavier. Whenever possible, you should supervise the loading of your truck so you can make sure it is loaded correctly and you know of the approximate size and weight of your load.
Make sure your loads are secured to keep them from shifting during transportation. Rollover accidents are more likely to occur when the load is not secured and shifts on a curve. This causes the trailer to fall over as its center of gravity shifts. In the 2002 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it was found the weight of a load has twice the effect on rollovers as it does on other truck crashes.
One out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a trucking collision, so make sure you drive your truck safe by watching for these common accident causes. If you are involved in an accident, however, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer for legal help.