Speeding is as serious a problem as drug and alcohol abuse: the consequences can be just as deadly. 18 wheelers are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of speeding because of their size. A semi-truck can not slam on its brake and stop as a passenger car can. A number of unexpected occurrences: a stalled car, unexpected traffic, and poor road conditions, can arise in a flash. However, these tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and the faster the vehicle is going, the longer it takes to stop. Speed also increases perception, reaction, and braking distance.
Truckers often experience pressure from their trucking companies to log miles and keep up with stringent delivery schedules. But in the long run, speeding can result in major delays due to accidents, resulting investigations, and damaged cargo.
Twenty-five percent of speed-related fatalities occur in adverse weather conditions such as snow, rain, fog, and ice. The FMCSA recognizes this problem and offers some safety tips for drivers:
- Speed should be reduced by 1/3 on wet roads and by half on snowy roads
- Roads are most dangerous when it first starts to rain because the pavement is slick from oil mixing with water. Use extra caution when it first starts to sprinkle.
- Semi-truck drivers should not use retarder or “Jake brake” on wet roads. A retarder is a compression release engine brake which opens exhaust valves in the cylinders, releases compressed air, and thereby slows the truck down. On wet roads, using this brake can lead to loss of control.
- Slow down significantly on curves–40% of speeding related fatalities occur on curves. Braking on the curve itself can lead to the brakes malfunctioning and the entire vehicle skidding.
- Entrance and exit ramps are also a dangerous area of the road. 20 – 30% of all large truck accidents occur on or near ramps. Truckers need to slow down even more than the posted speed limit for passenger vehicles.
- Truckers driving with loaded trailers need to do be especially careful on curves and ramps, as they are particularly vulnerable to tipping and rolling.
Contact the Trucking Accident Attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP for Help
If you have been in an accident with an 18 wheeler, you need an experienced attorney on your side in order to establish truck driver liability. Trucking accidents are complex events, and many parties may be partly responsible. From the trucking company to the loading company to the parts manufacturers, an attorney can piece together all the causes for your accident.
It is critical that you act quickly. Important information regarding your accident is recorded on the 18 wheeler’s black box. From this, we will be able to tell what was happening in the moments before and after your accident. Was the truck driver speeding? Did he accelerate before the accident? This important information is recorded over in a loop, so it is critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.