Home Blog Truck Accident Truck Crashes Are About to Become More Frequent and More Deadly

Truck Crashes Are About to Become More Frequent and More Deadly

By Eugene Bruno on November 30, 2023

Many of us will be traveling this holiday season to spend time with family and friends. If your travel plans include driving any distance, you should take the time to read this month’s blog post about how and why truck crashes are about to get worse in California. Drowsy driving already contributes to California having some of the most dangerous roadways in the U.S. But big rig truck drivers on California’s roadways are about to get a little drowsier – and more dangerous – thanks to some recent developments. Find out what’s going on and what you can do to be as safe as you can be on the road this holiday season.

According to Caltrans’ Roadway Safety Action Plan 2023-2024, Governor Newsom’s office and Caltrans have increased their commitment to roadway safety heading into 2024. Roadway safety is for everyone – drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians – and it must continue to be a top priority so that we can reduce the overall number of fatal and serious crashes on our roads. California is experiencing a dramatic increase in serious and fatal roadway crashes. Last year, approximately 10% of all U.S. roadway fatalities occurred in California. Every day, nearly 12 people are killed in roadway crashes just in California alone. This places a terrible burden on the families, friends, and loved ones who are left behind.

Truck accidents, in particular, can have devastating consequences. To mitigate these risks, California implemented certain safety regulations aimed at the trucking industry. One of these regulations is the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. An ELD electronically logs a truck driver’s time spent driving. Its primary objective is to tackle distracted driving, a leading contributor to truck accidents. By monitoring and limiting driving hours, an ELD contributes to preventing accidents caused by driver fatigue. Well-rested drivers are less susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel or making mistakes due to exhaustion.

Despite the obvious benefits, not everyone is a fan. As with any new technology, trucking companies must invest in ELD hardware and provide ELD training to drivers. Trucking companies generally don’t like anything that increases the cost of operations and reduces profit.

California Requires More Breaks for Truck Drivers

Who hasn’t taken a long car trip and looked forward to a rest stop where you can stretch your legs and refresh yourself? Who hasn’t gotten back behind the wheel refreshed and more alert after stopping for just 5 or 10 minutes? When it comes to rest stops for truckers, however, even rest breaks are about to get shorter and less frequent, too. Like ELD, rest stops increase the cost of operations and reduce profit, so trucking companies have filed lawsuits to avoid giving truckers the rest and meal breaks they are entitled to under California law.

California requires a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours of work, another 30-minute meal break over the next five hours, and additional 10-minute rest periods every four hours. Federal regulations merely require one 30-minute meal break during the first eight hours. Can you spot the major difference between California and federal law? If you guessed safety, you’re right. Well-rested drivers are safer drivers.

The California legislature knew this. This is why they required more rest breaks for truckers than what is required under federal law. However, a recent appellate decision out of the Ninth Circuit disagreed, and the U.S. Supreme Court is very unlikely to give California drivers the break they deserve. No state has the kind of highway infrastructure California does, and, unfortunately, federal regulations are not sufficient to prevent drowsy truckers from driving. Plus, they’re too easy to manipulate and there’s less enforcement if a driver does violate them.

Safely Tips When Driving Near Trucks

Now more than ever, driving safely next to big rig trucks will require awareness, caution, and adherence to certain guidelines to ensure you will arrive safely at your destination. Here are some tips:

Maintain a Safe Following Distance: Give big rig trucks plenty of space. This allows the truck driver to see your vehicle in their mirrors, and it provides you with better visibility of the road ahead. Trucks have larger blind spots, too, so avoid traveling beside trucks.

Avoid Sudden Maneuvers: Big rig trucks have longer braking distances, so avoid sudden lane changes or abrupt stops in front of trucks, as they may not be able to react quickly. Use signals.

Pass Safely: If you need to pass a big rig, do so quickly but safely by maintaining a consistent speed, signaling your intention to pass, and moving into the passing lane when it is clear.

Trucks have longer blind spots on the right side, so avoid passing on the right unless absolutely necessary.

Be Extra Cautious in Bad Weather: Trucks take longer to stop on wet or icy roads, and bad weather can reduce visibility for both you and the truck driver. Slow down, increase your following distance, and use your headlights to enhance visibility.

If you’ve been involved in a crash with a big rig driver who you suspect may have been driving drowsy, here’s what you can do: Prioritize safety by moving to a safe location if possible. Turn on hazard lights and, if necessary, set out warning triangles. Call 911. A police report is crucial for establishing the facts of the accident. Obtain photos of the truck driver’s commercial driver’s license, the truck’s license plates, and any damage it sustained, and VERY IMPORTANT, the DOT number on the door of the cab. The DOT number is critical to a post-crash investigation. Take detailed photographs of the scene, damage to vehicles, road conditions, and any relevant signs. Talk to witnesses – their statements can be extremely valuable in determining liability. Finally, if you think the driver is impaired by drowsiness or for any other reason, take a video.

Were You Injured by an Careless Truck Driver?

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy trucker, our San Diego truck accident attorneys can protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us at 1-888-BRUNO-88 (1-888-278-6688).

Posted in: Truck Accident