The Dangers of Speeding Truck Drivers
While commercial truck drivers get to travel the country, they are also on a tight schedule. Regulations limit the number of hours drivers can work without taking a break to sleep, and drivers want to complete their deliveries on time and within the hours of service timeframe. Truck drivers often want to get to their destinations as quickly as possible, which can lead some drivers to drive too fast.
Whether a truck driver exceeds the posted speed limit on a Connecticut freeway or is driving too fast in adverse weather conditions, speeding contributes to many commercial truck accidents and serious injuries to others.
Citations for Speeding
Truck drivers can operate their large, heavy tractor-trailers at surprisingly high speeds. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that many truck drivers receive citations for speeding, whether or not an accident occurred. The following are the reported speeding citations for commercial drivers in a single year:
- Six to ten miles per hour over the speed limit = 67,487
- 11 to 14 miles per hour over the speed limit = 28,325
- 15 or more miles per hour over the speed limit = 15,510
The FMCSA also reports that speeding is a major contributor to many semi-truck crashes. When you consider the number of truck drivers cited for speeding – and the many additional drivers who did not get caught speeding – it is no surprise that tens of thousands of truck accident happen because someone drove a truck too fast.
Increased Risk of Crashing
Speeding can be a factor in any type of traffic accident, as any type of vehicle can crash when going too fast. Because of their size, high center of gravity, and weight, semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles are particularly susceptible to speed-related crashes. Speed can affect a truck and truck driver in the following ways, among others:
- The truck will need longer to stop to avoid a collision. A speeding truck driver may not be able to stop in time if a car or another obstacle is suddenly in their path.
- The truck may roll over on a curve when speeding. A driver may remain in control at a higher speed on straightaways, but even a slight curve at a high speed can throw the truck off balance and cause a rollover crash.
Not only does speeding increase the chance of a crash, but it also can increase the severity of a collision. A truck traveling at 80 miles per hour can often cause more damage and injuries than a truck traveling at 65 miles per hour might cause in the same accident. Therefore, speeding trucks present both the threat of more accidents and the threat of more severe accidents.
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Excessive speed generally refers to exceeding the posted speed limit for a particular stretch of road or freeway. Of course, complying with the speed limit is critical for safety, though just because a truck driver is within a speed limit does not mean they are being safe. The FMCSA further prohibits truck operators from driving too fast for conditions.
Adverse conditions that may require a truck driver to adjust their speed include:
- Weather conditions including rain, sleet, snow, and fog
- When there is low visibility on the road
- When the pavement is wet or icy
- Heavy traffic
- Road construction zones
- Road hazards
When a truck driver notices any of the above conditions, they should immediately know to slow down, even if it means dropping below the speed limit significantly.
There are also additional areas in which the FMCSA instructs truck drivers to slow down, including:
- On curves – Many curves have reduced speed limits, though large trucks should often reduce their speed more than passenger cars before a curve. Hitting the brakes during a curve can result in the truck’s wheels locking and it can throw the truck into a skid. Higher speeds on curves can also trip a rollover crash.
- On exit and entrance ramps – Trucks take longer to slow down than passenger cars, and the lower speed limit for on and off ramps is often too high for a semi-truck. These ramps can also have sharp curves that require a much lower speed.
- When driving with a full load – A fully-loaded trailer not only will require more stopping time but also can raise the truck’s center of gravity and increase the risk of a rollover.
Just because a truck driver was technically complying with the speed limit does not mean that the driver was driving at a safe speed for the conditions of the road. Truck operators who drive too fast for conditions should still be held liable for any harm they cause in a crash, even if they were not violating a state traffic law at the time. For example:
- The posted speed limit is 65 miles per hour on a Connecticut freeway
- A truck driver is driving 60 miles per hour
- It starts to rain heavily and traffic begins to slow down, but the truck driver does not slow down
- Even though the truck driver was under the speed limit, 60 miles per hour was an inappropriate speed to travel based on the conditions
Speeding Combined With Other Factors
While speed is a factor in many truck accidents, it is often combined with other dangerous driving behaviors or factors. Speed can commonly coincide with the following:
- Drugged or drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Tailgating and aggressive driving
- Improper lane changes
- Brake failure
- Tire blowouts
- Overweight trucks
When speed combines with any of the above, the risks of a severe crash become even higher.
Contact a New London and Norwich Truck Accident Lawyer Right Away
At Polito & Harrington, LLC, our legal team regularly handles complex truck accident claims that involve speeding and other forms of negligence. If someone else caused your accident, you should not wait any longer to discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced truck crash attorney in New London, Connecticut. Please call (860) 447-3300 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.