Because semi-truck drivers are required to undergo extensive training and testing to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL), we tend to hold them to a higher standard and expect them to observe the posted speed limits at all times. Unfortunately, not all truck drivers obey the speed limit at all times and could be tempted to exceed these limits to hit strict deadlines imposed by their employer.
The harsh truth is that speeding can make it much harder to avoid an accident and can also make injuries much more severe if a crash occurs. This is especially true for semi-trucks, as the additional size and weight of a semi-truck hauling a trailer already make traffic collisions more severe.
If you’ve been involved in a collision with a heavy truck that was speeding or driving too fast for conditions, you should speak with a semi-truck accident lawyer right away. The Baton Rouge speeding truck accident lawyers at Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers have many years of experience handling truck accident claims. We want to help you pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other losses.
Speeding as a Major Cause of Semi-Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that 5,005 people died in large truck or bus crashes in a single recent year. Another 170,000 people were injured.
In that same report, the FMCSA said that of the 4,657 fatal large truck crashes that year, 1,083 of those crashes were due to the truck’s movement or loss of control, accounting for 23.3 percent of all fatal large truck crashes. This suggests that almost one-fourth of all large truck crashes are caused by speeding trucks, resulting in untold damage to themselves and others on the road.
What Makes Speeding So Dangerous?
Here are some of the factors that make speeding so dangerous:
Less time to react – In an emergency situation, drivers have to make snap decisions in split-seconds. These decisions can be the difference between a relatively minor accident and one that results in serious injuries. Truck drivers are already worse off in the event of an impending accident because they’re driving vehicles that are much bigger and heavier than passenger cars, making them harder to handle in an emergency. Truck drivers who speed have less time to react, which can cause them to make careless mistakes that can lead to further injuries.
Less room to maneuver – Because of their additional size and weight, large trucks need a lot more room to stop to avoid an accident. A passenger car traveling at 65 mph needs about 300 feet to stop safely, while a fully loaded truck needs about 600 feet to safely stop. If a truck is speeding, it will need even more room to stop safely, which can lead to rear-end collisions and other accidents if the truck doesn’t have enough space to stop before colliding with a vehicle in front of it.
Blindspot issues – Commercial trucks have much larger blind spots than passenger cars or smaller trucks, and these blind spots extend in front of, behind, and to the side of their vehicles. When truckers speed, they can miss or lose track of any vehicles that might be in their blind spots, leading to an accident. This is especially dangerous in cases where truckers are merging or changing lanes, as they can crush a vehicle in their blind spot in an override or underside accident.
Sharp curves in the road – Curves can cause drivers of cars to lose control if they’re speeding, and the risk of an accident is only multiplied when it comes to large trucks. Large trucks that are speeding can tip over if the load shifts as the truck makes its turn, and speeding trucks can also jackknife going around sharp turns at high speed, sending their trailer careening into multiple lanes of traffic.
Shifting cargo loads – Speeding makes it harder for truckers to control their vehicles as they’re moving. Speeding can cause improperly secured cargo to shift in transit, which can lead to an accident if the truck makes an abrupt or sharp change in direction or momentum.
Weather issues – Speeding greatly increases the chance of a vehicle losing control and hydroplaning when the vehicle is traveling on wet, slick roadways. This is particularly dangerous for large trucks, as they can lose control and slide into other vehicles on the road, doing tremendous damage.
Speeding also makes truck accident injuries more severe. The faster an object is moving and the greater its mass, the more force it hits with in the event of a collision. Trucks have much more mass than passenger cars, which already means that they hit harder than passenger cars when crashes occur. A truck that’s speeding will deliver even more force to anything that it hits, wreaking havoc on anyone or anything in its path.
Why Do Semi-Truck Drivers Feel Pressured to Speed?
Speeding is hardly unique to semi-truck drivers, but they do feel pressure to speed that other motorists generally do not.
Some of the reasons that truckers may not abide by speed limits include:
Pressure from their employers – Truckers have strict timetables for their deliveries, and not meeting these deadlines can have a significant impact on their livelihood. Truckers may speed to make sure they arrive at their destination on time. More miles means more money, so truckers have an incentive to go as far as they can as quickly as possible.
Not viewing speeding as dangerous – Because the legal penalties for speeding are relatively low compared to other driving offenses (like drunk driving, for example), not all drivers believe speeding is dangerous. This makes it easy for them to justify traveling faster than posted speed limits. Additionally, with semi-truck drivers having a CDL, they often believe they are more experienced than other drivers on the road.
Inattentive driving – Truckers often travel long routes across the country for days on end, and if they aren’t paying attention, they may find themselves speeding without even realizing it.
They don’t think they’ll be caught – With all the cars on U.S. roadways, it can be easy to feel like even if you do speed, your chances of being caught are fairly low. While your risk of being cited for speeding may be small, the added risk of injury or death that comes with speeding makes this a dangerous assumption for drivers to make.
Are Speed Limits Different for Truckers?
There have been proposals to set separate nationwide speed limits for large trucks, but so far there has been no definite action on the part of regulatory agencies.
Some states do set lower speed limits for trucks on some roadways, particularly Interstates and other freeways. Louisiana does not generally set different speed limits for trucks.
Baton Rouge Laws Against Aggressive Driving
In addition to the standard fines and other penalties for speeding, truckers, and other drivers can be cited under Louisiana law for the “reckless operation of a vehicle,” defined as operating a car, semi-truck, or another vehicle in a criminally reckless or negligent way. Penalties for reckless driving include fines and jail time. A bill has been introduced that would create the new crime of “aggressive driving,” but the bill’s fate is still uncertain at this time.
Proving Speed Contributed to a Semi-Truck Accident
Compared to other moving violations such as drunk driving or texting while driving, showing that a trucker was speeding in the lead-up to a crash can be relatively straightforward. Speeding is one of the most common causes of traffic collisions. Police and other law enforcement officials have investigative techniques for measuring the speed at the time of impact.
Additionally, most commercial trucks have built-in data recorders that record their speed, braking, route, and other data as they drive. This data can play an important role in a truck accident lawsuit.
It’s important to speak to an attorney soon after a truck accident so they can take the necessary steps to prevent a trucker’s employer from erasing that data and avoid liability for an accident. If you cannot use a police report or the truck’s own data to prove the driver was speeding, an accident attorney may be able to help.
Contact a Speeding Truck Accident Attorney in Baton Rouge
Were you injured, or did you lose a loved one in a large truck accident caused by a semi-truck driver who was speeding? The best way to seek the compensation you deserve after an accident is to hire a knowledgeable Baton Rouge speeding truck accident lawyer.
Our attorneys have been providing legal representation to people who’ve been hurt in our community for more than 30 years. Now, it’s our turn to put that experience to work for you.
Get a free case evaluation today by calling us, or you can visit our contact page.