GET A FREE CONSULTATION

Blog

Transport Truck Accidents

Edited by Admin
Transport Truck Accidents

Transport Truck Accidents

 

Last year’s horrific accident that claimed the lives of several members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team has provoked a number of questions about long-haul trucks, and the enforcement of laws governing these vehicles. The crash, which happened in April of 2018 on a road near Armley, Saskatchewan, occurred when the driver of a transport truck failed to stop at a stop sign with a flashing signal at an intersection. Sixteen people died and thirteen were injured. It was later revealed that the driver of the semi-trailer had committed 70 violations of federal and provincial trucking regulations during the eleven days prior to the crash – and therefore should not have been on the road.

 

In Ontario, heavy semi-trucks and B-Train combinations can weigh as much as 63,500 kg, depending on the number of axles and configuration. Obviously, a vehicle that large can cause tremendous damage in any kind of accident. Nearly 2,000 Canadians are killed and another 10,000 are injured every year in motor vehicle accidents involving a heavy truck. In 2012, large trucks were responsible for 19% of Ontario motor vehicle fatalities even though they represented only 4% of vehicles on the road. On a distance-travelled basis, large trucks have a fatality rate that is twice as high as the rate for all other types of vehicles.

 

Causes of Transport Truck Crashes

 

There are, of course, many reasons why collisions happen. But the most common reasons for motor vehicle accidents involving heavy trucks are:

  • Driver error. Like any driver, truck drivers can make errors in judgement, or commit highway code violations. Making improper lane changes, following another vehicle too closely, or speeding are some common causes of collisions.
  • Vehicle defects. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Transport, vehicle defects were a factor in 344 collisions on OPP-patrolled roads between July of 2014 and June of 2017. Six of those accidents were fatal, and 37 resulted in serious injuries. Common vehicle defects include damaged axles, blown tires, detached wheels, faulty brakes, and defective hitches. Other problems include improperly secured loads or equipment that falls off the truck. In fact, the driver in the Broncos crash said that he was distracted by a flapping tarp just before the accident occurred.
  • Improper truck maintenance. A related cause of heavy truck accidents is improper maintenance. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act requires a minimum of three inspections of commercial motor vehicles each year, but given the number of kilometres these trucks travel, it’s important for them to be maintained on a constant basis. In fact, drivers are required to do a pre-trip inspection each time they go out. National safety standards dictate that the following components be thoroughly checked and in working order:
    • Brakes
    • Steering
    • Tires and wheels
    • Hydraulic brake system
    • Lamps
    • Electrical system
    • Instruments
    • Couplers and hitches

  • Driver fatigue. Trucking companies try to keep their drivers on the road as much as possible so that they can haul the maximum amount of goods, but fatigue can be debilitating for drivers. In Ontario there are rules that limit the amount of time a trucker can drive without resting. The rules state that a driver:
    • Must have 10 hours off every day
    • Cannot drive longer than 13 hours in one day

In a period of consecutive seven days, a driver cannot drive after having been on the road for 70 hours, or after 120 hours for periods of 14 consecutive days. Drivers are required to keep a logbook that lists their locations and schedule (as well as information about the vehicle) for inspectors.

  • Impaired driving. The Ontario Road Safety Annual Report notes that drunk driving is a factor in approximately 2% of all fatal transport truck accidents. Drug use is also problematic, although figures for this are not currently available. Many drivers use amphetamines to help them stay awake for long hours while working, and this can lead to speeding, vision problems, and erratic driving.
  • Bad weather. Like other drivers, truck drivers are affected by snow, fog, heavy rain, and other inclement weather. Big trucks can difficult to manage on ice or roads slick with rain.
  • Poor training. Drivers are unorganized and often poorly paid, and many receive only a bare minimum of training. With a lot of older “baby boomer” drivers retiring, there is a large number of inexperienced drivers on the road. Until the job can be made more attractive as a career, it’s probable that this will continue.

Who Is Liable?

 

An experienced personal injury lawyer can assess your situation and help you to explore your options, including filing a claim with your insurance company. If your injuries (or a family member’s death) were caused due to the negligence of another driver, you may also choose to pursue legal action. You may receive compensation for pain and suffering, loss of income, medical expenses, and more. Contact a personal injury law firm today.