There are few things that are more intimidating than driving next to an eighteen-wheeler on the highway. Commercial trucks are massive, with the largest ones weighing in at 33,000 pounds! Compared to the average sedan weighing roughly 3,000 pounds, it’s not hard to see why these behemoths can make some people nervous. Although the majority of journeys made by truckers go smoothly, there are a few different things that could lead to an accident on the road.

For starters, truckers tend to drive for prolonged periods of time. Usually, they drive in shifts, where they have a fourteen-hour “driving window” in which they can drive for 11 hours. Luckily, this window is only open after they have been off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. Once they start driving, the window does not close, even if they take a break to eat or rest. Additionally, truck drivers are required to take a thirty minute break after eight hours of driving.

Finally, truckers cannot drive for more than 70 hours during a period of eight consecutive days, or 60 hours during seven consecutive days if the company does not operate vehicles every day of the week. Some trucks have sleeper-berths for the truckers to rest in, and those truckers follow a different set of rules. Still, they have specific guidelines on how long they can drive during a shift, and how long those shifts can be. These safety measures work to ensure the safety of the driver, the truck, its contents, and of course, other people on the road! Even the best driver will be significantly impaired if he or she drives without ample resting time. Pair that with a truck that can be over ten times the size of the other cars on the road and you have a recipe for disaster.

Distance also plays a major factor here. Let’s say the average highway speed limit is 70 mph. A trucker driving for eight hours at that speed limit covers around 560 miles during his or her shift. Even after taking the break required by law, many truckers drive upwards of 700 miles during their shifts. This is a long distance for even the most experienced trucker, and the added monotony of driving can lead to accidents.

When factored together, the size of the truck, the hours driven, and the distance undertaken by the driver all contribute to a growing problem. Vehicular accidents are no laughing matter, especially when the number of large trucks that were involved in fatal crashes increased in between 2016 and 2017. There were 4,657 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2017, up from 4,251 in 2016. In the case of an accident involving a commercial truck, firms such as the Hammack Law Firm specialize in how to proceed. Firms that specialize in both injury and auto law can be lifelines to someone who has been injured due to a collision with a commercial truck.

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