Truck Accidents in Anchorage, Alaska
On January 30th, 2015, a person was flown into Anchorage, Alaska to get medical treatment. This person was hospitalized as a result of a collision between a pickup truck and a semitrailer. After the accident, debris covered the highway, and the trucks remained in a ditch. The accident caused the highway to be closed down for nearly two hours, forcing a lot of drivers to alter their commute.
Although the cause of this collision was not released, it is not an uncommon scenario. According to a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), about 500,000 truck accidents occur in the United States every year, resulting in an average of 500 deaths annually. The United States Department of Transportation defines a truck accident as a scenario in which a 10,000-pound or heavier vehicle collides with another vehicle or pedestrian.
Just as you need a Commercial Driver’s License to operate one of these vehicles, there are also other laws surrounding operation. Truck drivers have to follow the same laws as other drivers as well as specific truck laws. For example, there are “no truck zones” and required sleeping time.
For many truck drivers, their whole day is spent in the driver’s seat. More often than not, truck drivers have to drive through the middle of the night, when a lot of other cars are not on the road. Because of this, there are rules surrounding required sleep for drivers. In most states, legal drive time is 11 hours, meaning that after 11 hours of driving, a truck driver must take a ten-hour break. Usually, this break time comes in the form of sleep. Because of the nature of the job, sleep is very important to these drivers. If a driver is overly tired, this can result in reckless driving, which can cause accidents.
While getting the right amount of sleep is one way for truck drivers to avoid accidents, there are a few other easy steps that truck drivers can take to decrease their chance of being in or causing an accident.
Fit, keep a safe distance from other vehicles. While this is a general rule for drivers of all types of vehicles, it is even more important for truck drivers. With a truck, the vehicle is much heavier, which means that the time it takes to come to a complete stop is greater. So while reaction time remains constant across different types of vehicles, the braking time increases. According to a study done by the United States Department of Transportation, if a car and a truck are traveling at 65 miles per hour, given that the drivers have the same reaction time, the truck would need 200 feet extra of braking distance. This means that truck drivers need to keep a much greater distance from other vehicles than cars in order to operate the vehicle safely.
Another way for truck drivers to avoid accidents is to slow down in work zones. As mentioned before, a truck accident is not only categorized by a truck hitting another vehicle, but also if a truck hits a pedestrian. A common location in which truck/pedestrian accidents occur are work or construction zones. According to a study done by the United State Department of Transportation, in the year 2010, 1.6% of vehicle accidents occurred in a construction zone. In these zones, workers are very often working near the road, if not in the actual roadway. If a truck is traveling fast, and a construction worker is entering the roadway, the truck driver has not given himself an opportunity to slow down. Because there are usually workers close to the road in these zones, many cars find themselves abruptly slowing down. This can also cause an accident if drivers are not following at a safe distance or are distracted,
If a truck driver takes very good care of maintaining his vehicle, the risk of accident decreases. If a truck is very well maintained, there is less chance of a mechanical failure, In a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, mechanical failure was the cause of an average of 12% of automobile accidents per year. In a lot of these cases, this mechanical failure could have been prevented by regular vehicle maintenance. A few things that truck drivers can do to properly maintain their vehicle include checking the tire pressure at least once a week and keeping track of the wear and tear on each one of the tires. Brakes also need very regular maintenance, such adjustments and regular check ups.
Another practice that truck drivers can do to decrease the risk of accident is to actively drive defensively. This type of driving comes in a few different forms. The overall idea of defensive driving is to not make assumptions of other driver’s intentions. While we have all passed the driver’s test, not every driver on the road is constantly driving as safe as possible, and we cannot assume that they are. For example, plan for the unexpected. Just because it doesn’t make sense to abruptly change lanes with no warning doesn’t mean that another car around you won’t do it. It is very important that every driver, especially truck drivers, is prepared to react to others’ decisions, whatever they may be. No driver is perfect; every driver has made a mistake. If you always assume that the other drivers around you will make one of these mistakes, it can greatly decrease your risk of accident.
By understanding the necessity of sleep as well as the ways to decrease risk of accident, the number of truck related accidents and fatalities could decrease. Every choice that a truck driver makes, whether that is to skip out on a few hours of sleep, or to not slow down in a work zone, could cause a variety of unintended impacts, and these impacts can be fatal.
If you have any other questions about truck accidents, how to prevent them, or know someone who has recently been involved in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact Kelley & Canterbury LLC today.