America cast its lot with the idea that 18-wheel, big-rig trucks were the ideal delivery platform decades ago. Begun in the aftermath of World War I, the military experience of wide truck use returned across the Atlantic and quickly began to supplant the dominant rail-centric model that had prevailed since the Civil War. It was the aftermath of another war, World War II, which witnessed the growth of an interstate highway system that knit the nation together and cemented the growing preeminence of the trucking industry by the 1950s and 1960s. With growing use of the roads by these monstrous vehicles, government agencies acted to regulate the industry in the face of rising accidents, vehicular deaths on America’s highways and byways.
Driver fatigue was identified as a leading cause of this rise in accidents, and owing to the shear size of the vehicles involved, these accidents frequently ended in fatalities.
First, disruption in sleep patterns can result in what doctor’s refer to as the “Circadian rhythm effects,” while “cumulative fatigue effects,” or sleep deprivation can prove deadly when traveling 70-miles an hour behind the centrifugal force of 80,000 pounds. Indeed, the problem became so acute, that the United States Congress forced to act with issuance of an “Hours of Service” regulation designed to limit the amount of time a driver could legally remain behind the wheel safely.
What’s Going on With Rural Roads and Truck Accidents?
Commercial trucks operating in an urban setting, as opposed to rural routes, are involved in just as many accidents than their country counterparts, but there remain an outsized number of fatalities on country roads than city streets, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). So, what’s happening on the rural roads of America and truck accidents?
To begin with, the three main causes of accidents involving truck drivers, whether on rural or urban streets, are speeds that are too fast for driving conditions, brake failure, and unfamiliarity of the road. Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, driver training can’t keep up with the pace of demand for available driving slots, which means that less experienced drivers are often behind the wheel when accidents happen out on the road.
Three additional factors seem to weigh against truck drivers on rural roads.
In addition to the aforementioned excessive speed issue, many rural roads only feature two lanes, so the chance of an accident is heightened by the lack of space on the road. Also, maintenance on these routes is less likely to be as often or extensive as the interstate highway system resulting in a roadbed that cannot support that kind of weight or speed. Roads known for many hills and sharp turns tends to cause vehicles to inch towards the other lane while travelling and this can result in fatal truck accidents.
Anyone who has ever driven down a country lane can attest to how dark the road is at night. With a lack of adequate street lighting, drivers can have difficulty identifying and reacting to roadside challenges in a timely manner. For drivers trying to navigate around big riggers, the blinding lights of the oncoming truck can prove disorientating and dangerous.
The final reason that rural roads are more dangerous for truck accident victims is the feeling of safety that often permeates the country driver. Low traffic density has the effect of pushing drivers to push down harder on the gas pedal, while seatbelt use is less than used in the urban driving environment.
When Should You Call an Attorney?
When it comes to seeking legal representation in the event of an accident, there are several guidelines you can follow to ascertain if you need a lawyer to secure your rights. Always remember that insurance companies are experts in the denial or minimizing of claim payouts, and you will be at a decided disadvantage if you attempt to force a claim judgment on your own. If you’ve been injured in an accident as the result of another driver’s negligence, there is no assurance that you will be adequately compensated for your loss and medical bills.
As such, you should reach out to a qualified legal representative if you have been seriously hurt in an accident, and particularly if your injuries have the potential of having long-term consequences. If you don’t believe your settlement amount will fully compensate you for your injuries, or pay for all your current and future medical expenses, then you should discuss your case with an attorney.
Finally, if you are receiving the short shrift from your insurance company and you feel as if you are being pressured to take a settlement, be sure to contact a lawyer for rural truck accident cases to make sure that the offer is adequate to meet all of your medical and financial needs. Generally speaking, fast payments typically preclude fair settlements, so it is critical to get your own attorney’s input to ensure that you are getting everything you are entitled to as the result of a truck related injury or accident.