October 27, 2016

Commercial truck drivers are tasked with a difficult job that requires experience, attention and good judgment to avoid catastrophic accidents. While most drivers do their best to focus on the road and prevent truck accidents, unfortunately, some drivers take their duties less seriously. A recent investigation caught commercial truck drivers engaging in a multitude of dangerous behaviors.

Below is a summary of that investigation, which should serve to underscore the necessity of proper training for commercial truck drivers, and to remind others throughout Pennsylvania to always be diligent on the road. In particular, roads such as Route 22, in Lehigh County; Route 78 in Northampton County; Route 33 and Route 80 in Monroe County; Route 76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) in Philadelphia County; Route 309 in Bucks County; and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Blue Route) in Montgomery Counties, can be particularly dangerous.

Driver distraction documented

During the investigation, cameras were positioned along highways. The footage captured truck drivers engaging in dangerous behaviors while driving these massive trucks, including manually dialing cellphones, talking on handheld cellphones and even texting.

All of these behaviors are against federal regulations, and they also violate state laws, but that was not enough to deter the drivers. Sadly, when these drivers are negligent, the consequences for other motorists can be steep.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the following troubling facts on large truck accidents:

  • Trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles.
  • Trucks require a far greater distance to come to a complete stop. This is especially true when roads are wet and slippery or when brakes are poorly maintained.
  • When truck accidents resulted in fatalities in 2012, truck occupants were the victims only 17 percent of the time.

These factors already put other motorists at a high risk of being seriously injured, or even killed in truck accidents. When truckers take their eyes off the road or engage in other negligent behavior, the accident risk is even greater.

Truck accidents in Pennsylvania

Truck accidents are not an abstract risk for drivers in Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics, which is a publication from the state Department of Transportation, heavy trucks were involved in 5,891 state crashes in 2012. Those crashes represented 4.8 percent of total state crashes but 11.8 percent of fatal crashes, which shows that truck accidents contribute disproportionately to motor vehicle fatalities.

Earlier this spring, law enforcement authorities from Pennsylvania started to crack down on commercial truck drivers and those behaviors that often contribute to accidents. During the campaign, which will continue through summer, authorities are focusing on behaviors that greatly raise the risk of accidents, such as speeding and failing to leave a sufficient following distance to the car in front of them.

Unfortunately, if the findings from the above camera investigation are any indicator, not even a crackdown will be enough to prevent every instance of negligence.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a commercial truck accident, whether in Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Lehigh, Northampton or Monroe County, Pennsylvania, you should immediately contact one of our personal injury attorneys to discuss your options. We are available 24 hours a day. Call us toll free at 888.312.4351.