Federal trucking regulations aim to reduce traffic accidents, but they fail to address many of the root causes of the problem. Poor visibility and the corresponding inability to react to changing road conditions, play a major role in the frequency and severity of traffic accidents.
A Nashville truck accident lawyer can point to seven factors that limit visibility, primarily through driver negligence.
Time Of Day
Nighttime driving has always been more dangerous than driving during the day. Not only does darkness induce fatigue, it has a strong impact on visibility.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study in 2007 reported to Congress that nighttime visibility is severely limited because of night glare and range issues. Night glare from oncoming traffic destroyed the night vision of drivers, especially those over 50, leading to temporary blindness and potential loss of vehicle control. The NHTSA found night glare the most problematic in areas with few streetlights or other roadside sources of light.
Driving during particular periods of daylight is no less dangerous than driving at night, depending on the direction the truck is traveling. Truckers driving into the sunlight at sunrise or sunset face protracted periods of intense sunlight and glare from the roofs and glass of other vehicles.
Many trucking companies require drivers to use sunglasses or other protective eyewear in the hour before sunrise or sunset as a way to reduce the impact of the sun on driver visibility.
The NHTSA blames a large portion of trucking accidents on driver fatigue, and for good reason. Drivers face longer work weeks than ever before, and trucking companies have put increased pressure on drivers to stay on the road at all costs.
Fatigue hinders visibility in two ways. First, drivers fight to stay awake, and closed eyes provide no visibility and a complete inability to prevent an accident. Second, even when a driver is awake, fatigue causes blurriness and sluggish reaction times. As a result, drivers are unable to judge distances in time to stop before a collision.
The difference between a deadly accident or a fender bender is often a matter of inches. Speeding trucks have lower reaction times than other vehicles, and any errors the driver makes are magnified in a crash.
If the truck was speeding, a Nashville truck accident lawyer may be able to prove the driver was liable for an accident, because the truck driver left himself without enough time to stop. Scientific evidence and the truck’s own computer can provide the hard evidence a Nashville truck accident lawyer needs to argue the case.
Truckers, especially long haul drivers, spend days or weeks on the road at one time. While they are on the road, it’s easy to let health and medical issues slide, if those issues do not directly hinder the driver’s ability to keep the truck on the road.
A driver with a weak prescription has an increasingly short field of vision, and the problem can only be solved with a trip to an optometrist and a new set of glasses. Not every driver is willing or able to take the time to stop for new glasses, wrongly assuming that the problem can wait until they get home. The slow degeneration of the field of vision can lead to drivers with an effective eyesight of 20/50 or worse.
Not every problem with visibility is the trucker’s fault. Sometimes the actions of other drivers play a role in the accident. Even with proper mirror positioning, a trucker still has large blind spots around the vehicle. The most dangerous spots are near the driver’s door, from the trailer hitch to the nose of the truck on the passenger side, and the nose of the truck.
Drivers who slam on their brakes or drive for long distances in a truck’s blind spot greatly increase the probability of an accident. Through an examination of the positions of other vehicles involved in an accident, a Nashville truck accident lawyer may be able to prove that the accident was not the fault of the trucker, but another driver.
Hard rain and snow diminish a driver’s field of vision in a matter of seconds. When this occurs, truckers must adjust their driving patterns to slow down and avoid accidents.
A Nashville truck accident lawyer can expand a liability suit after an accident to include the trucking company if there were maintenance issues involved in the accident. A trucking company that fails to replace worn out wiper blades or provide other safety equipment puts everyone on the road at risk.
Truck accidents are serious, and are more likely to be deadly than other vehicle collisions. With the assistance of a truck accident lawyer, victims can apply liability where it belongs and seek compensation.