The Port of Miami is well-known as the leading departure port for cruise lines in the United States. But as the U.S. container port nearest to the Panama Canal, PortMiami serves as a gateway to the United States for cargo and goods shipped from Latin America, Asia and around the world. Well over four billion tons of cargo come into the port every year, and that number is fast approaching five billion in inbound tonnage

Much of this cargo gets loaded onto tractor-trailers and transported across the country via Interstate 95. This means a great deal of semi-truck traffic throughout Miami day and night year-round. It also means an increased likelihood of serious truck crashes. In 2016, Miami-Dade County was home to 8,314 big rig truck accidents, accounting for 921 injuries and 17 deaths. Like with car accidents, the rate of truck accidents is on the rise due to distracted driving and other factors. When an 18-wheeler is involved, however, the potential damage is much greater. A tractor-trailer loaded down with cargo weighs 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle. When that much weight hits a car at highway speeds, the force is devastating.

In Miami, South Florida and across the state, the Law Offices of Brandon L. Chase helps truck accident victims recover much-needed compensation after a truck crash caused by the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company. Learn more about the causes of truck accidents below, and contact the Law Offices of Brandon L. Chase for a no-cost, confidential consultation following a Miami truck accident.

What are the main causes of truck accidents?

Commercial truck drivers engage in the same negligent driving behaviors that negligent car drivers are susceptible to, including speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving, and these reasons account for a high number of both car accidents and truck accidents. Additionally, truck drivers face additional challenges specific to handling 40 tons of cargo and equipment.

Truckers need increased reaction time and stopping distance to respond to a change in traffic patterns or an emergency situation on the road. A loaded-down semi needs 400 feet to come to a stop at highway speeds. That’s more than the length of a football field. Leaving that much space open on a crowded Miami highway is difficult, to say the least.

All cars have blind spots, but the blind spots on a tractor-trailer extend across multiple lanes on the sides of the truck as well as several car lengths behind the trailer and in front of the cab as well. Checking mirrors and signaling well in advance are essential to truck safety and avoiding collisions.

Trailers must be loaded properly by the driver or others responsible for loading the truck. An overloaded truck is susceptible to mechanical breakdown or brake failure, and a driver is likely to lose control of a truck carrying an unbalanced load.

It should go without saying that trucks need to be maintained in good working order to avoid truck crashes, but annual roadside inspections turn up trucks by thousands that have to be immediately pulled from service due to issues such as bad tires, bad or missing brake components, nonfunctioning turn signals, and other essential pieces of equipment not in good working order.

Aren’t truck drivers limited in the number of hours they can spend behind the wheel?

Truck drivers are bound to follow the hours of service rules promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), but these same roadside inspections that place trucks out of service also find about 5% of drivers in violation of the FMCSA hours of service rules. Some go so far as to falsify their logbooks to hide their noncompliance. Safety experts know that drowsy driving and fatigued driving are very real dangers, and that sleep and rest are the only cures for fatigue. Drivers nevertheless succumb to economic pressures from their employers and put in overlong hours to deliver their cargo on as short a timeline as possible.

Even drivers who follow the FMCSA regulations can legally be on duty 14 hours a day, including 11 hours behind the wheel. They can additionally lawfully put in 60 hours in a seven-day week or 70 hours in an eight-day workweek. A truck driver’s weekend need only be 34 hours long (less than a day and a half) before they can start a new week. A recent amendment was proposed to require two overnight periods during that 34 hours, based on safety research, but the rule was suspended before it ever went into effect. When the trucking industry lobby gets to help write the rules, safety suffers for the truckers on the road and the drivers who share the road with them.

Passionate and Tenacious Miami Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents are complicated events that require expertise to understand, and the massive trucking company insurance carriers are not shy about spending their resources to try and avoid paying out large damages to people hurt in truck crashes. Truck accident victims need smart, aggressive representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer who is willing and able to go trial when necessary to get the best result for his clients. In Miami, South Florida or statewide, call the Law Offices of Brandon L. Chase at 305-677-2228 for a free case evaluation after a serious truck accident injury.