In our years helping car and tractor trailer crash victims in Spartanburg, Union, and Cherokee counties, one of the chief questions we hear from clients is, “How could this happen?”
Tractor-trailer wreck victims are even more bewildered, since truckers are supposed to be professional drivers. Think about it: anyone piloting a landship weighing from 10,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds (40 tons!) should always be well-qualified, highly trained, and focused like a laser beam on keeping us little motorists safe, right?
Unfortunately, it’s far from always. In 2013, in South Carolina alone, 18-wheelers were involved in 2,299 crashes. In those crashes, 1,409 injuries resulted—and 62 were fatal.
Truckers Make Mistakes Too
A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows truckers are subject to the same faults as any other motorist, despite the fact truckers drive for a living. These are some of the top causes of tractor trailer accidents in South Carolina and all over the country:
- Speeding, caused by the “phantom menace.” Truckers can be hounded by what I call the “phantom menace”—constant pressure to satisfy their employer’s demands for on-time deliveries. That factor makes them extremely dangerous, turning our highways into “dieways.” The demand for speedy delivery also creates pressure on semi-truck drivers to skimp on rest periods, even though fatigued drivers get into more accidents. Despite all this, truck drivers know better than to speed. Shockingly, another factor driving the need for speed is driver inexperience, despite the fact trucking companies are required by federal regulations to provide specific driver training.
- Following too closely, aka tailgating. This can be related to, and worsened by, speed. Or bad brakes. We’ve all known the fear and frustration of these giant machines roaring up behind us as if they might run us over or just eat us alive. The best thing to do here is let the trucker have his way, no matter how wrong he may be—your safety is paramount and he’s obviously not looking out for it. Change lanes as safely and quickly as you can. The reason for this is revealed in the next factor.
- Brake problems. Believe it or not, these enormous machines moving at high speeds are sometimes not properly maintained. If a 18-wheeler roars behind you and the brakes go out, you will be crunched.
- Making an illegal maneuver. Due to the size of their vehicles, truckers must be especially careful when making turns, giving you plenty of time to respond to the turn and plenty of room for the semi-truck to avoid slamming into an innocent motorist. But truckers often ignore more basic safety rules. The result? A truck runs a red light to cause a devastating t-bone accident and maims an innocent motorist, who then needs an extremely serious and risky spinal operation.
- Inattention. Truckers get distracted by gadgets in the car, cell phones, instrument panels, and those annoying calls from dispatch demanding to know when they’re going to arrive at their destination. When the truck is moving at blinding speed, this can cause serious tractor-trailer accidents anywhere in South Carolina.
At Holland & Usry, we look at truckers with the old saying, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Despite being at the helm of a massive instrument that can kill, truckers don’t always keep first things first—and the safety of everyone on the road is the top priority.
While there are many common causes of South Carolina tractor-trailer accidents, the truth is, any one crash can be caused by a combination of a variety of factors. We closely investigate any cause of the crash, using our experience in these accidents to gather evidence from a variety of sources that can help us present the clearest picture of how the trucker ignored your safety to hurt you.
If you’ve been hurt by a tractor-trailer accident in South Carolina, check out our free report on South Carolina car accident cases, which includes a chapter on tractor-trailer crashes. You can always feel free to email or start a live chat to see if we can help you investigate the cause of it, especially if you’re too hurt to schedule a free meeting at our office. We can come to you. You can also always call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to discuss your case.