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Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, Inc.

California Truck Accident Attorney Compiles Collision Statistics, and provides important recommendations to help you avoid a truck accident.

A 2008 study by the National Transportation Safety Board on truck accidents resulted in startling accident and injury statistics in California and the nation.  California recorded truck accidents that totaled more than 8,600 collisions, and bus accidents of more than 1,000.  318 fatalities arose from those collisions, and injuries occurred in most of the remaining accidents, with 5,481 large trucks and 493 buses involved in tow away crashes. As a California truck accident attorney, we can share our experiences on truck accident avoidance, when these accident statistics are compared to real world collisions. But first the national statistics are worth examining.

Of the 148,000 truck and bus crashes in the U.S., approximately 4,500 were fatal, and 88,500 sustained injuries in addition to the deaths listed above arising from 60,000 accidents.  The injury statistics may not be accurate, as this data is compiled from police reports, and frequently, those injured less severely often decline treatment at the scene, or report no symptoms until days later, and are therefore not recorded in the data.   The true injury statistic may be more than double the statistical amount recorded.

The study “coded” reasons for the crashes, caused by the truck driver, equipment and non-truck driver causes.  68,000 accidents were related to truck driver related causes  By far this statistic accounted for half the collision causes.  Only 8,000 accidents were attributed to truck maintenance failure.

To understand how we, driving our vehicles on the road, may prevent being involved in a truck accident, a closer examination of the statistical conclusions is warranted.  In the Driver error categories, there are four sub-categories, Non-performance, Recognition, Decision and Performance.  These four categories mimic the four stages of an accident occurrence.

The first stage involved non-performance, or not seeing the danger as it approaches and taking appropriate action.  An example would be falling asleep, or having a heart attack.  9,000 accidents were attributed to this cause. There is little we can do to avoid a collision with a truck driver that has had a seizure or heart attack or even fallen asleep, except to drive defensively.

 There were 20,000 accidents, the second largest category of accident reasons, caused by failure to recognize a danger because of inattention, or distraction by something inside or outside of the truck, or failing to observe the dangerous situation adequately. This is the category of recognition.

The third category of causes of driver error is decision making, where the driver fails to make a reasonable decision.  Such things as traveling too close for conditions, failing to observe speed laws and failing to note and take action of a danger ahead, would account for the largest category of 30,000 accidents.

Lastly, performance measures the driver’s failure to perform adequately when posed with a danger.  This category of 7,000 accidents would include driver panic, or overcompensation to the danger ahead, and losing control of the truck.

In order for us to be safer on our highways, more education of truck drivers is required to make sure that we eliminate their causes of truck accidents.  However, you can avoid a collision if you understand the causes and apply some simple rules to your driving patterns.

Recognition and non-performance account for more than one-half the causes of accidents.  We must stay out of the way of these truck drivers.  Here are a couple of simple rules to follow.

      1.    Never allow a truck to travel behind you at any kind of close distance.  Make sure that you travel in a separate lane and ahead of or behind a truck.  If the driver is distracted, has a heart attack or seizure, or simply is not paying attention, your effort to put as much distance between you and that driver will assure you are not involved.  What about when there is heavy traffic?  Don’t be in the lane with a truck starting and stopping behind you.  Change lanes or travel behind the truck.


      2.    Before passing or overtaking a truck, always observe the operator’s conduct.  Is the truck staying in the lane, or veering.  Is the driver traveling in excess of the speed limit.  Flash your lights before you pass the truck, and look for the driver to blink his rear lights in acknowledgement that he sees you.  You will prevent his inattention from causing you injury.

       3.    As a California truck accident attorney we see lots of accidents caused by the truck driver changing lanes into the client, causing a serious injury.  Prevent this type of inattention from causing you injury.  Never travel next to a truck, either pass it or remain behind it, until you know there is no danger.
 
Poor truck driver performance and decision making are also minimized when we take several steps to prevent accidents as a motorist.  First, recognize that although they are professional drivers, they are subject to the frailties of all human beings and can cause accidents as the statistics bear out.  While you may be in the right, that is you did not cause an accident, you certainly do not want to have to heal from an accident.  Here are a few tips to avoid a collision with a driver that has poor judgment.
 
      1.    As you approach a truck, watch how the driver is handling other cars on the road.  Is it respectful of other drivers?  Is the driver keeping a large distance between the car ahead and the cars beside it.  Is the driver looking in his mirror as you are approaching from another lane from behind.  Most drivers will give clues to their ability to perform and make good decisions.  If a truck driver is repeatedly following too close to a car, braking excessively then speeding up or traveling significantly faster than the speed limit, you must at all costs avoid this truck and driver.  Pass only when you know it is very safe, and do not decelerate and change lanes (on a two lane roadway) back in front of the truck until you are well down the road.  Do not let this truck come up on you.  Instead, continue your pace, or pull off and take a break, letting the truck go on without you.

 With a few precautionary steps, many truck accident victims can control their destiny.  While our clients are not at fault for an accident, they may have avoided their grief by following these simple steps.  If you have had a truck accident, you should consult with an attorney to help you decipher if you have rights.  In the mean time, be safe out there.

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