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How COVID-19 Can Impact Trucking Safety

May 1, 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 and Road Hazards

Back in March, the Department of Transportation lifted the regulations for hours of service for commercial vehicles who are involved in delivering essential items to hospitals and other establishments that are critical to the relief of COVID-19. Now that the hours-of-service rules are temporarily waived, truck drivers have no restrictions on how long they are permitted to be on the road, and can essentially drive as long as they need to get these goods delivered swiftly. Here’s why this could have an impact on road safety.

The Demand for COVID-19 Essential Goods and Trucking Hazards

Supplies such as medical masks, gloves, toilet paper, and food sustenances needed for everyday living are in high demand. And with high demand comes loading up trucks with these goods to get to their destination faster than ever before.

Truck drivers are required to take precautions to stay alert and drive carefully, however, the pressure to deliver these goods quickly has truck drivers working longer and harder. In addition, if the driver is also required to physically transport items from their truck to the establishment, this can take a tremendous toll on a driver leaving him or her fatigued. Being tired or exhausted leads to slower reaction times and the potential for a trucking accident.

Read on to learn more about how truck accidents can happen.

How Truck Accidents Happen

Truck accidents can happen at any time and without warning. Here are some common reasons why truck accidents can occur:

Tiredness/Fatigue of the Driver - as mentioned above, driver fatigue is one of the top reasons why truck accidents can happen.

Lack of Maintenance/Inspection of Trucks - Laws and regulations require truck owners to ensure their fleet is adequately serviced and maintained regardless of emergency situations such as COVID-19. While they may want to deliver goods quickly, they still must take the time to inspect and provide maintenance to any vehicle that isn’t properly functioning.

Impaired Driving, DUI, or DWI - Getting behind the wheel after taking drugs or drinking alcohol is an irresponsible act. It puts everyone on the road at risk of a serious truck accident.

Failure to Yield - Failing to yield in the following situations could pose a truck accident risk:

  • Failure to yield to pedestrians

  • Failing to obey a yield sign

  • Failing to yield at an uncontrolled intersection ( an intersection with no stop signs, traffic lights, or yield signs)

  • Failing to yield when pulling out of a driveway or parking lot space

  • Failing to yield when making a left turn

Speeding - Now that the roads are less congested during the COVID-19 pandemic, truck drivers may be more apt to go over speed limits. Abiding by speed limit laws is critical to safety, no matter how many cars or trucks are on the road.

Loss of Control - From driving too fast, taking a sharp turn, or simply not being alert, truck drivers who lose control of such a large vehicle can cause a severe accident and devastating injuries to all parties involved.

Disobeying safety procedures - Before getting on the road, drivers should follow proper safety protocol as directed by the Department of Transportation. Failing to conduct these procedures could lead to a severe accident.

Shifting Cargo - If a truck isn’t loaded and secured correctly, cargo could move out of place and shift weight in the truck while in transit. This could cause a truck to be thrown off balance as well as cause a driver to lose control and cause an accident. An overloaded truck can also bring about the same outcome.

Brake Failures - Brake failures are not uncommon mechanical failures in trucks. This is especially dangerous because large trucks need more distance to fully stop than passenger cars. 

Tire Blowouts - A tire blowout can happen without warning and cause a truck driver to lose control. Tire blowouts can happen for the following reasons:

  • Improper inflation
  • Improper tire installation
  • Cargo overload
  • Manufacturer defects
  • Driver error (such as taking a close turn on a corner)
  • Driving over debris in the road or hitting a pothole

Types of Truck Accident Injuries

Being involved in a trucking accident could lead to the following injuries and in some cases can be catastrophic:

  • Spinal cord injuries - This can involve damage to any part of the spinal cord or spinal cord nerves.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) - The result of a violent blow to the head that penetrates brain tissue.
  • Concussions - A TBI that affects the function of the brain, such as problems with concentration and memory.
  • Broken bones - This means a break in the bone, also called a fracture. If the fractured bone punctures through the skin, this is called an open fracture.
  • Burns - This can cause severe skin damage. The higher the degree of the burn, the higher the severity of the burn.
  • Internal bleeding - Also known as internal hemorrhage, this is loss of blood from a vessel inside the body.
  • Internal organ injuries - This could happen when body parts slam against one another due to force or penetrated by a foreign object.
  • Lacerations - This involves the tearing of soft body tissue.
  • Seat belt injuries - While seatbelts do save lives, injuries from a seatbelt after a crash may include:
    • Fractures
    • Shoulder and neck injuries
    • Internal bleeding
    • Spine injuries
    • Internal organ injuries
    • Paralysis - This involves loss of muscle function, which can be complete or partial.
    • Wrongful death - Unfortunately, truck accidents can lead to death, whether on impact or as a result of sustained injuries.

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Truck Accident

If you are involved in a trucking accident and have sustained an injury, the first thing you should do is call 911 to get help as soon as possible. If you are able to, here are some other steps you should take:

  • Do not move any of the vehicles involved in the truck accident.
  • Take photos of the accident scene for your records.
  • Get the name and contact information of the other drivers involved in the accident.
  • Get the insurance information of the other drivers involved.
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.

When You Need a Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer

Even though you may practice defensive driving on the road, a truck accident can happen in the blink of an eye. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a truck accident, we are here to help you. Our experienced personal injury attorneys know what it takes to recover compensation for truck accident victims.

Call Peterson & Associates, P.C. today at (816) 298-8708 to speak with an attorney about your potential case.

Categories: Truck Accidents

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Our law office is located in Kansas City, Missouri at:

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Kansas City MO 64112.

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