Millions of commercial trucks pass through New Mexico annually. Unfortunately, not all of them make it to their destinations. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, in 2018, 2,658 crashes involved heavy trucks. Truck accidents made up 5.7% of all accidents but 15.3% of all crash fatalities. Recognizing the most common causes of truck accidents in New Mexico could help you avoid becoming a victim.
Drowsy and Fatigued Truckers
Truck driver fatigue is a common issue in the transportation industry. Truck drivers are likely to experience fatigue due to long hours on the road, schedules that reverse their sleeping patterns and a high probability of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects truck drivers at an excessive rate due to health issues such as obesity and smoking. Sleep apnea can interrupt a good night’s rest and increase drowsiness during the day. These factors combined increase the chances of truck driver fatigue behind the wheel. Although federal law imposes hours-of-service regulations to prevent drivers from being on the road for too long without rest breaks, many drivers break these rules.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can make it difficult for a truck driver to safely control a truck. Commercial trucks require a great deal of care to operate properly. They have larger blind spots, make wider turns and have different braking capabilities than standard passenger vehicles. Truck driver impairment, including intoxication, was the second-most common driver-related cause of truck accidents in 2018, based on data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The first most common cause was speeding.
The hydraulic brake system used by large commercial trucks requires greater stopping distances. Combined with the fact that a large truck can weigh 80,000 pounds, a truck driver must take great care not to exceed a reasonable speed. Reasonable speed means below the posted speed limit or one that a prudent driver would use under the circumstances. This may be less than the speed limit in bad weather, such as rain or fog. Speeding can make it more difficult for a truck to come to a complete stop, increasing the risk of a rear-end collision. Speeding is the most common truck driver mistake associated with large truck accidents in the US.
Long hours on the road can lead to truck drivers turning to distractions such as cellphones, passengers, reading, personal grooming, fiddling with the radio and watching videos to pass the time. If a truck driver takes a fraction of his or her attention away from the driving task, he or she can miss a changing roadway situation and cause a serious accident. Every truck driver must dedicate 100% of his or her attention to the road.
A large truck’s ability to make it to its destination safely relies on the roadworthiness of the truck. A truck with poorly maintained parts, such as worn brakes, is much more likely to get into an accident than a properly maintained one. Equipment malfunctions in transit can lead to catastrophes such as the loss of braking power or tire blowouts. Another common malfunction is a lost cargo load, which can happen when a team secures the cargo incorrectly or fails to properly balance cargo inside of the truck.
Who Is At Fault for Your Truck Accident in Albuquerque?
Identifying the cause of your truck accident can help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Most causes are preventable. If a negligent truck driver caused your accident, the trucking company may be vicariously liable for your damages. You may be able to hold the trucking company responsible for issues such as a poorly maintained fleet as well. Speak to a truck accident lawyer in Albuquerque after a collision for more information.