California roads are becoming crowded again as we slowly enter the post-pandemic world. Drivers who’ve gotten used to clear highways are finding they have to readjust to these busier conditions. That’s bad news for everyone on the road.
When complacent motorists don’t remember to watch for other drivers, it can lead to tragedy. When those drivers are controlling massive, heavy semi-trucks, the accidents are that much worse. Unfortunately, California is beginning to see just how relaxed semi-truck drivers have become over the past year.
In just the past few months, there have been dozens of accidents involving semi-trucks throughout the state. Three in particular stand out. On March 2nd, fifteen people died in an accident when a big rig truck hauling gravel collided with an over-full SUV.
More recently, on May 5th, a Tesla driver died after crashing into an already-overturned semi-truck that was blocking two lanes of the highway. On the same day, a big rig carelessly parked on Amtrak railroad tracks led to a massive crash, narrowly avoiding a train derailment. It was the second such accident in two months.
It’s clear that California truckers have become careless over the past year. This is deeply dangerous to all road users. Reckless driving by a professional trucker is even less excusable than it is by the average person. Here’s what you need to know about what constitutes reckless driving and how to protect yourself.
What Is Reckless Driving?
In general, reckless driving is defined as any behavior that makes driving more dangerous. Common types of reckless driving are:
- Texting while driving
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving while drowsy
- Running red lights
- Ignoring road lines
- Failing to follow traffic laws
Of course, big rig operators can cause much more harm than a Honda owner if they behave recklessly. That’s why they’re held to higher standards regarding dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
National Truck Driving Laws
The trucking industry is vital to the US economy. There’s constant pressure on drivers to go faster and drive for longer. Meanwhile, big rigs can be incredibly dangerous to other road users if driven by a tired person. It’s a deadly combination.
To prevent tragedies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put many regulations in place to prevent truckers from taking unnecessary risks. Breaking these regulations is an immediate sign of recklessness by the driver.
The first and most crucial rule restricts how long a driver can work before taking a break. Truck drivers may only drive for eleven hours a day total. They also need to take at least one thirty-minute break after going for eight hours, and they must stop for the day fourteen hours after they first begin. Ignoring these rules leads to exhaustion and a greater chance that they’ll cause an accident.
Next, truckers must be regularly tested for the use of controlled substances. Obviously, it’s entirely illegal for truck drivers to use alcohol or restricted substances while driving. If a driver goes back on the road after using these drugs, they are by definition behaving recklessly. Meanwhile, if a motor carrier doesn’t properly test their employees or allows a driver to work after testing positive, they are negligent.
Finally, because of the dangers inherent in putting a fleet of massive trucks on the road, federal law mandates that trucking companies insure their fleets. These requirements are strict: all motor carriers (companies that transport people or property) must have public liability insurance.
This policy type covers everything from environmental damage to bodily harm. Many truckers also have individual, primary liability insurance policies that cover additional damage to people and property. The goal of these policies is to protect the public from drivers who ignore regulations or cause accidents anyway.
What to Do About Dangerous Truck Drivers
Laws can only do so much to protect you. Many truckers will push the limits of regulations to get to their destination a little quicker. As a fellow road user, being careful and informed can help you avoid the worst when truckers are being reckless. Here are some tips for staying safe:
Never tailgate: If a truck driver slams on the brakes while you’re tailgating them, you’re in trouble. Tractor-trailers have a tendency to jackknife when they brake too hard. If you’re tailgating them, you won’t have time to avoid a crash, and you may be the first car in a pile-up.
Stay out of blind spots: While trucks are designed with many mirrors, there are still driver blind spots. If you can’t see the truck’s rear-view mirrors, they can’t see you. This is especially true if you’re in a small car. The driver doesn’t know you’re there and might cut you off or worse.
Don’t turn right in front of a big rig: 18-wheel vehicles take longer to stop than smaller cars simply because they’re so big. If you take a right turn in front of a truck that’s beginning to move, you’re in for a slow-motion T-bone accident.
Give erratic trucks plenty of space: Follow your instincts. If any vehicle is weaving back and forth or driving strangely, stay away. They might be intoxicated, or the truck might be damaged. Give them plenty of space so you don’t get caught in the impending accident.
Hold Reckless Truckers Accountable for Their Actions
There’s never a good truck accident. The size and speed of most big rigs make them the most dangerous vehicles on the road by far. Whether a semi driver is simply distracted or actively reckless, they can cause massive crashes in a split second. They deserve to be held accountable if they do.
If you or someone you love has been in a truck accident, you don’t have to face it alone. Reach out to a qualified truck accident attorney today for your free consultation. You can discuss your case and learn how you can fight back for the compensation you deserve. Hold reckless drivers accountable and take back control over your life today.