NJ Trucker Negligence Accident Lawyers
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The size and weight of some large trucks can cause great damage and injury when they crash. Big rig drivers must make sure they have the appropriate training and licensing, handle their vehicle with care and caution at all times, remain alert and practice safe driving habits. In New Jersey truck accidents where the truck is the originating vehicle of the incident, driver behavior is the number one cause of crashes and the injury and deaths that can result. Large truck operators have a duty to keep the road safe by practicing safe driving habits.
Drivers must obtain and keep commercial driver's licenses, and they must maintain the appropriate endorsements for the type of cargo they will haul and the type of truck they will drive. When drivers fail to keep themselves properly trained and licensed, they put others at risk.
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Speeding is by far the most common negligent behavior of truck drivers. Pressure to deliver goods as quickly as possible in addition to long hours on the road can make it tempting to push past the speed limit. Speed limits are designed to keep vehicles at a manageable speed. When drivers blatantly disregard the posted limit, they risk losing control of the vehicle, especially if they need to make evasive maneuvers. Even when traveling at or under the posted speed limit, drivers need to adjust speeds to stay safe if road conditions change. Failure to recognize and respond to worsening road conditions can lead to a catastrophic accident.
Inattention can be deadly. State law does not allow drivers to use cell phones without a hands free device or text while driving. Even reaching for a coffee or a sandwich can take a driver's attention off the road long enough to cause an accident. Since large trucks are considerably more difficult to handle than cars, these minor distractions can have major consequences.
Sleep deprivation is a common problem for long haul drivers. New Jersey is home to a main East Coast north to south trucking corridor, Interstate 95, and long haul drivers come through our state all day and night. Lack of sleep can impair judgment and reaction time as much as alcohol or drugs can.
While it is obvious that truck drivers should not operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated, it is more difficult to judge whether a person is too tired to drive. This is why there are strict laws about hours of service. These laws make it mandatory for drivers to take breaks from driving, take days off and log all hours to ensure they are following the rules. They are designed to limit the chance of a trucker driving while fatigued.
A fatigued truck driver is more prone to causing a crash than a rested driver is, and that effect can be cumulative. When a tired driver takes a few hours off but does not get enough rest, sleep deprivation can start to add up. Driving while tired can be equally as dangerous as driving drunk. Studies show that driver fatigue impairs driving ability as much as a couple of drinks does.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires drivers to keep logs of many of their responsibilities including hours of service and maintenance checks. When driver negligence is at the core of major large truck accidents in New Jersey, these logs can provide valuable evidence or a telling lack of evidence.
When a truck driver chooses to drive while impaired, he has a weapon that can weigh more than 40 tons. Alcohol is the most common substance we mean when talking about driving under the influence. Alcohol dulls the senses, makes reaction times longer, and impairs judgment. It is illegal to drive any vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of .08% or higher, and the rules for truckers are stricter than they are for regular drivers: a BAC of .04%. A truck driver convicted of driving under the influence in New Jersey will lose his commercial license for at least one year on a first offense and permanently after that. These tough guidelines make driving under the influence a rarity in commercial trucking, but that does not make life after a DUI truck collision any easier for injured victims.
Another intoxicant is drugs, whether illegal or not. Prescription medication, even when taken according to doctor's directions, can cause drowsiness, sometimes to the point where reaction time and judgment are impaired. Just because a medication is legal does not mean it is safe for truckers while driving. Truck drivers may think they can push through the drowsiness. Then, they find out too late that they could not focus well enough.
Trucking companies do take precautions to minimize the risk of their drivers operating a large truck while under the influence, but they are ultimately still responsible for their drivers' actions. There are rules against hiring truck drivers who have had recent DUI convictions. But most companies will hire drivers after ten years of a clean driving record or even as few as five years. While this limits the likelihood of hiring a driver who is prone to impaired driving, it does not eliminate the chance, nor does it go far enough to keep previous offenders out of these massive vehicles.
At Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., our NJ personal injury lawyers understand that if you or a loved one was seriously injured in a truck accident, you are probably feeling overwhelmed. The task of fighting the trucking company or insurance company to compensate you for medical bills, time off work, and other losses can be complicated. You need dedicated and competent legal representation at this time.
We take care of you and your family by investigating any possible wrongdoing that could have caused the crash, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We will aggressively seek compensation from all possible sources for your injuries or your loved one's death. The New Jersey truck driver negligence attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. have the knowledge, skills and resources to fight for you and your family. Call us today at (609) 240-0040 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your truck hit-and-run, jackknife, underride collision, or other vehicle crash case.
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