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Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Tennessee

Commercial truck accidents can be devastating, leading to significant property damage, severe injuries, and even fatalities. In Tennessee, where trucking routes are prevalent, truck crashes are not uncommon. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have extensive experience in handling truck accident cases and are committed to seeking justice for victims.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a trucking accident, it’s crucial to secure legal representation promptly. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can fight to protect your rights and for the full compensation you and your family deserve.

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Why Are Truck Accidents on The Rise in Tennessee?

With the growth in the trucking industry, there has been a noticeable increase in truck-related incidents in recent years. A large truck accident occurs every 3 minutes in Tennessee, resulting in over 12,000 commercial truck accident crashes annually.

According to the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security, commercial truck accidents are most often caused by the following:

  • Illegal Drug Use and/or Intoxication
  • Driver Fatigue & Falling Asleep at the Wheel
  • Distracted Driving
  • Road Rage
  • Defective Equipment
  • Lack of Proper Training

How Does Drug or Alcohol Intoxication Contribute to Commercial Truck Accidents?

Illegal drug use and intoxication have been recognized as significant factors contributing to commercial truck accidents not only in Tennessee but across the U.S.  Alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, especially a large commercial truck.  The consequences can be devastating. Here’s an in-depth look at how these factors play a role in commercial truck accidents in Tennessee:

  • Impaired Judgment. Drugs and alcohol can severely impair a driver’s judgment, as well as their ability to drive a vehicle in a lane. This might lead to risky behaviors on the road, such as speeding, tailgating, or making unsafe lane changes without adequate checks.
  • Reduced Reaction Time. One of the most dangerous effects of drug or alcohol use is the decrease in the driver’s reaction time. When driving a commercial truck, which requires more time to stop or maneuver due to its size and weight, even a slight delay in reaction can be catastrophic.
  • Vision Impairment. Drugs and alcohol can blur vision or cause difficulty in focusing. For truck drivers who rely heavily on their sight to navigate large vehicles, this can result in overlooking other vehicles, misjudging distances, or failing to recognize potential hazards.
  • Fatigue. While some drugs can initially act as stimulants, they often lead to rapid energy crashes or fatigue once their effects wear off. This can be especially dangerous if a person is at the wheel when such fatigue sets in.
  • Coordination Issues. Intoxication can affect a driver’s motor skills, making it challenging to steer the truck correctly, shift gears, or operate other essential controls.
  • False Confidence. Some substances can induce a false sense of confidence, leading drivers to believe they are more alert or capable than they actually are. This overconfidence can result in risky behaviors or decisions on the road, or even a wrongful belief that they are alert enough to drive safely.
  • Legal Implications. Tennessee, like other states, has strict regulations against driving under the influence. For commercial truck drivers, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is typically lower than for regular drivers. Any violation can result in hefty fines, license suspension, or even imprisonment.
  • Increased Liability. If a truck driver is involved in an accident and is found to have been under the influence, it significantly increases the liability for both the driver and the trucking company. This can lead to larger settlements or verdicts in favor of the victims.

How Does Driver Fatigue Contribute to Accidents?

Another significant factor in truck accidents is driver fatigue. Truck drivers often work long hours, covering vast distances. Despite regulations mandating rest periods, some drivers or trucking companies bypass these rules, leading to exhaustion and decreased reaction times. An overworked driver behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle is a recipe for disaster.

Here’s a detailed look at how driver fatigue contributes to commercial trucking accidents:

  • Impaired Cognitive Function. Fatigue can slow down the brain’s processing speed, leading to impaired judgment and decision-making. A fatigued driver might struggle with assessing situations quickly or making the best decisions in critical moments.
  • Decreased Reaction Time. Just as with intoxication, fatigue can slow a driver’s reaction time. Given the size and weight of commercial trucks, even a split-second delay in reaction can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and causing a catastrophic collision.
  • Microsleeps. One of the most dangerous effects of fatigue is the occurrence of microsleeps—brief, involuntary episodes of inattention or sleep that can last for a few seconds. During a microsleep, a driver can travel a significant distance without any awareness or control, leading to potential accidents.
  • Vision Issues. Fatigue can affect a driver’s vision, leading to blurred or tunnel vision. This can result in the driver missing important signs, signals, or other vehicles.
  • Decreased Vigilance. A fatigued driver may not remain as alert or attentive to their surroundings. They may miss noticing brake lights ahead, a merging vehicle, or changes in road conditions.
  • Mood Changes. Fatigue can lead to irritability, mood swings, or even aggressive driving behavior. An impatient or agitated driver might take unnecessary risks on the road.
  • Influence of Hours-of-Service Regulations. To combat driver fatigue, there are Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations in place that dictate how long commercial drivers can be on duty and how long they must rest between shifts. Even though electronic logging devices carefully record all vehicle movement, there can be pressure to meet delivery deadlines, leading some drivers or companies to skirt these rules, resulting in fatigued driving.
  • Compounding Factors. Commercial drivers might also use medications, stimulants, or other substances to stay awake. While many of these stimulants are banned under federal regulations, drivers may not always comply with the law. Additionally, while illegal stimulants might offer temporary alertness, they can lead to energy crashes or other side effects that exacerbate fatigue.
  • Increased Liability. If a fatigued commercial driver causes an accident, it can increase the liability for both the driver and the trucking company, especially if the driver violated HOS regulations.

Commercial driver fatigue is a pervasive issue in the trucking industry, contributing to numerous accidents annually. It’s imperative for trucking companies to prioritize driver well-being, ensure adherence to HOS regulations, and educate drivers about the risks of driving fatigued. When truck companies fail to do so and innocent bystanders are injured, these negligent companies deserve to be held fully accountable. As a truck accident attorney with over two decades of legal practice, I can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and tenaciously fight for the maximum compensation possible.

Are crashes from distracted driving significant?

Yes. According to the National Road Safety Foundation, 22% of all automobile crash fatalities in Tennessee are attributable to distracted driving. Here’s a comprehensive look at how distracted driving contributes to large truck accidents:

  • Reduced Situational Awareness. Distracted drivers may fail to notice changes in traffic patterns, road conditions, or essential signals. For large truck drivers, this lack of awareness can lead to swerving, unsafe lane changes, or failing to adjust to slowing traffic.
  • Increased Likelihood of Tailgating. Distracted drivers might not maintain a safe following distance, especially if their attention causes them to misjudge the speed of vehicles ahead. Due to the longer stopping distances required for large trucks, tailgating significantly increases the risk of rear-end collisions.
  • Inability to Anticipate Hazards. Distracted driving can prevent truck drivers from anticipating and preparing for potential hazards, such as sharp curves, construction zones, or merging traffic.
  • Physical Impairment. Physical distractions, like adjusting controls, searching for items, or eating can lead to a driver momentarily taking their hands off the steering wheel. With large trucks, even slight deviations from a lane can lead to major accidents.
  • Visual Impairment. Activities like checking a phone, looking at a GPS, or reading can divert a driver’s eyes from the road. For large trucks that need more time to react, these visual distractions can be particularly dangerous.
  • Cognitive Distractions. Even if a driver is looking at the road, cognitive distractions, like daydreaming or being engrossed in a conversation, can divert their mental focus from driving. This can result in slower decision-making or not noticing potential hazards.
  • Regulatory Implications. Many jurisdictions have regulations against specific forms of distracted driving, especially mobile phone use. For commercial truck drivers, violations can lead to penalties, license suspensions, and increased scrutiny.
  • Liability and Legal Consequences. If a distracted truck driver causes an accident, it increases the liability for both the driver and the trucking company. Distracted driving can be used as evidence of negligence in legal claims.

What role does brake failure play in truck accidents?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 30% of all large truck accidents are caused by brake failure. Commercial trucks, given their substantial size and weight, rely heavily on their braking systems to stop safely and prevent collisions. When brakes fail, it can result in catastrophic accidents since the truck cannot decelerate or stop in time to avoid hazards.

Various factors can lead to brake failure, including:

  • inadequate maintenance,
  • overloading the truck beyond its capacity,
  • manufacturer defects,
  • the natural wear and tear of components, or
  • challenging road conditions like steep declines.

If a trucking company neglects its responsibility to timely replace or maintain the brakes on its vehicles, it can bear significant liability in the event of an accident. Trucks are sophisticated machines requiring regular upkeep to ensure they operate safely, especially given the critical role brakes play in preventing collisions. When a company disregards this duty, prioritizing cost savings over safety, and brake failure leads to an accident, the company can be held legally responsible.

Such negligence can be viewed as a direct breach of the company’s duty to ensure the safety of its vehicles on the road. Victims of such accidents can pursue the trucking company for damages, holding them accountable for injuries, property damage, and other losses resulting from their failure to maintain essential safety equipment properly.

Seeking Legal Representation: Why It’s Crucial

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in Tennessee, seeking legal representation is crucial. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we:

  • Gather Evidence. The aftermath of an accident can be chaotic. We take charge by gathering crucial evidence, ensuring that your case has a solid foundation.
  • Determine Liability. With multiple parties involved, from the truck driver to the trucking company and parts manufacturers, determining liability can be complex. We meticulously analyze all aspects to ensure that all potentially responsible parties are identified.
  • Negotiate on Your Behalf. Trucking companies often have formidable legal teams. We negotiate aggressively for the full and fair compensation deserved.
  • Trial. Truck companies and their lawyers know our reputation, and that we will not hesitate to take a case to trial if fair compensation is not paid. We believe that our reputation is crucial in helping to obtain a fair settlement, if possible, prior to trial. If a fair settlement cannot be achieved, then we are well equipped to present the cases of our clients to a jury.

Why choose The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt?

As a truck accident attorney with over two decades of experience in seeking fair compensation for those injured and the families who have lost a loved one in a wrongful fatality matter, we are committed to ensuring justice for truck accident victims. We handle the intricate details, taking on large corporations, so you can focus on recovery. With a contingency-based approach, we only receive a fee if we are successful in obtaining compensation on your behalf.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation.


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We hired Mr. Hurt to help settle a worker’s comp injury case for my husband. Mark, Bart, and Mary worked tirelessly to resolve his case and reach a settlement we were pleased with. They were always available to answer questions and returned calls in a timely manner.
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