A tragic accident in Oklahoma this September led to the premature death of four college softball players when their van was hit by a tractor-trailer. The driver admitted to being distracted by something in his truck, which resulted in him crossing over the median and crashing into an oncoming lane of traffic. Rachel Hitt, a 19 year old, survived the crash, and is now suing the Nashville-based Quickway Transportation Inc., for negligence in its hiring, training and supervising of the driver, Mr. Russell Wayne Staley. Mr. Staley is also named in the lawsuit.
The number of trucking accidents is increasing
All over the country, newspapers and media outlets are reporting more and more stories about accidents involving tractor-trailers. Tracy Morgan’s battles after being injured when a truck smashed into his limo-bus may have the most “air time,” but the numbers are on the rise everywhere. The most common accidents occur because of:
- Driver error. Distractions like cell phones, GPS units, radios and even food can cause a driver to lose focus on the road. Speeding and tailgating are also major factors in serious truck crashes.
- Driver fatigue. Failure to follow the government-mandated rules about how long a driver can work can cause those drivers to fall asleep at the wheel: allegedly, that’s what happened in Morgan’s case. Falsifying logbooks can cause major problems later on – and if the trucking company knew it was happening, then they too are responsible.
- Mechanical failures. Broken gear shifters, faulty electronic panels and strained engines can all cause a truck to crash. Design defects are often the root cause of these types of accidents.
- Poor training. As in Ms. Hitt’s lawsuit, poorly trained and supervised drivers are hazardous to everyone on the road. The trucking company is supposed to ensure that its employees are skilled and capable enough to handle driving a big rig; when they don’t, they’re negligent.
- Trailer issues. Tire blows and cargo problems – such as improper loading, or failing to secure the products – can cause a truck to skid, jack-knife or flip on its side.
Driving an 18-wheeler is serious business, and accidents can be catastrophic. We wish Ms. Hitt a speedy recovery. For more information about trucking accidents, contact me at any time.