Missouri motorcyclists: Use extra caution when traveling near large trucks

file3951268343242.jpgAll too often, auto accidents involving large trucks have deadly consequences for passenger vehicle occupants. When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash with a big truck, however, life-threatening injuries are almost inevitable. Recently, a 61 year-old Indiana man was killed when his 2014 Harley-Davidson was struck by a 1988 International Dump Truck. The motorcyclist, Dennis Darrenkamp, was westbound on a county road in Elkhart County when the northbound dump truck failed to yield the right of way at an intersection. Authorities say the truck driver, 41 year-old Jon Yoder, pulled in front of the motorcyclist and caused Darrenkamp to strike the passenger side of the truck. Darrenkamp was ejected from his motorcycle and sustained a fatal head injury: he was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Yoder was cited for failure to yield, and the Elkhard County Sheriff's Department is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the collision.

As motorcycle accident lawyers, we know that accidents of this nature are often totally preventable. Our firm strongly supports the efforts of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) to promote motorcycle safety and awareness in an attempt to prevent tragedies like the one in Indiana. The MSF is a non-profit organization internationally recognized for its motorcycle safety training and motorcycle rider curriculum materials. Their goal is to encourage a lifelong learning approach for motorcyclists. The MSF also develops riding trainers and coaches in their continued initiatives, all aimed at improving overall motorcycle safety.

Again, when it comes to motorcycle accidents, collisions with large commercial trucks are among the most dangerous. We urge all Missouri motorcyclists to check out the MSF website for education pamphlets, course locations, and safety information in general. Below, we've included a few of the organization's safety tips related to motorcycle and large truck or semi-truck accident avoidance on Missouri roadways.

Safe riding practices to Help prevent motorcycle/large truck collisions

• Take a quality, hands-on rider safety training course.
• Follow all traffic laws: they are designed to protect you.
• Know your motorcycle and continuously work on your riding skills.
• Maintain constant awareness of your surroundings. Be on the lookout for potential hazards.
• Avoid riding in the blind spots on large trucks, tractor-trailers, or tandem trailers, which are much larger than any other vehicles.
• If a large truck is tailgating you, change lanes. The difference between stopping distances is significant when it comes to motorcycles and large trucks: it can pose a huge risk to you as a rider.
• When driving alongside or near a big truck, always be prepared to make evasive maneuvers when needed.
• Never assume a truck driver (or any other driver) sees you.
• Be prepared for large trucks to make wide turns in front of you.
• Wear bright clothing and utilize reflective materials.
• Always signal your intentions (use hand signals too, when possible).
• Use your horn to get a truck driver's attention.
• Take up an entire lane.
• Create an even greater distance between your motorcycle and large trucks when traveling at higher speeds, after dark, and in inclement weather.

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Agressive driving and semi-trucks: A deadly combination for Missouri drivers

tunnel-865173-m.jpgAt one time or another, we've all gotten impatient while behind the wheel. How motorists react to that feeling of impatience, however, could directly impact their auto accident risks. Safety experts report that aggressive driving is a national epidemic: in fact, aggressive driving maneuvers - made by drivers of commercial trucks and of smaller vehicles - are a common contributing factor in many Missouri trucking accidents. That's why the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) have targeted aggressive driving in a continuing effort to reduce these preventable accidents

Aggressive drivers in Missouri

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." Most people don't stop and think about how dangerous aggressive driving is. With that in mind, consider the following questions about aggressive driving.

Are you an aggressive driver? A few warning signs

  • Anger or frustration: Do you express your anger or frustration to other motorists?

  • Failure to pay attention: Do you read, eat, drink, talk on the phone, or text instead of focusing on safe driving techniques?

  • Tailgating: Do you obey the 3-second rule? Tailgating is one of the most dangerous aggressive driving habits and is a leading cause of accidents involving large trucks.

  • Frequent lane changes: Do you get frustrated or impatient and weave in and out of traffic lanes, trying to get ahead? If you whip in and out of lanes, you pose a large danger to yourself and other motorists. Sudden, frequent lane changes are another leading cause of auto accidents: when done with or around a commercial truck, the danger is greatly increased.

  • Running red lights: Do you think you can make it? Do you tell yourself everybody else does it? Are you running behind schedule and can't wait another minute? Stop on a yellow/amber light. Anticipate light changes ahead of time so you can slow down and stop. Many truck accidents occur in intersections.

  • Speeding: Do you drive faster than the posted speed limit? Are you trying to race other motorists or driving faster than conditions allow? Are you so frustrated you just have to "get past this traffic"? Vehicle speed is a major factor in truck accident severity and a common contributor in vehicle rollovers.

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Common causes of Missouri trucking accidents (and how to avoid them)

February 19, 2015

semitruck3.jpgIt's no secret that semi-truck accidents can be deadly, especially when they involve an average motorist. The sheer size of commercial trucks (10,000 lbs up to 80,000 lbs) increases the magnitude of danger to other, smaller vehicles on the road: consider that the average passenger vehicle weighs only around 4,000 pounds, and it's easy to see why passenger vehicle occupants are extremely vulnerable to serious injury when they're involved in collisions with semi-trucks. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately one out of 10 highway deaths occur in an accident involving a large commercial truck.

Sadly, many commercial truck accidents are completely preventable, occurring only because some tractor-trailer drivers fail to adhere to proper, legally-mandated accident prevention measures. Some common causes of semi-truck accidents include the following:

• Speeding
• Driver fatigue
• Driver distraction
• Ignoring proper safety procedures
• Failure to perform proper repair, maintenance and safety inspections
• Failure to yield right of way
• Failure to use caution when backing up/moving in reverse
• Brake failure
• Other mechanical failure
• Tire blow out
• Overloaded trailers (carrying a load over the truck's weight limits)
• Shifting loads that unbalance the truck

So, what can Missouri motorists do to safeguard themselves and their passengers? As the saying goes, "the best offense is a good defense." This is particularly true when you're sharing the road with semis and tractor trailers. Our Missouri truck accident lawyers recommend driving defensively around big rigs at all times.

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Missouri semi-truck accidents: Common questions answered

January 19, 2015

sunset-run-1427546-m.jpgAccidents involving commercial trucks or tractor trailers can be especially complex. In many cases, there are several entities involved: often, the truck driver is operating as an employee or contractor, which means liability issues can be complicated. In this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers answer a few frequently asked questions related to semi-truck accidents.

Why do I need a lawyer if the accident was not my fault?

Depending on the situation, a semi-truck accident can also involve the motor carrier company who owns the truck and the owner of the freight or trailer - along with the insurance companies for each of these parties and for the driver. In some cases, the driver may work for yet another company or agency. Add in all of these insurance companies and their lawyers. In short: all of these entities are working to reduce their losses and the amount of money they have to pay out for claims and damages. That's why it's often wise to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, even if the accident was not your fault. A lawyer working for you can help protect your interests and prove your case.

Who should I talk to after the accident?

Talk to the police officers involved in investigating the accident, and seek medical attention if you are injured. However, you should limit any conversation to the basic facts of the accident and your injuries. Do not assume or place blame. Simply describe what happened as best you can. Then contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible: he or she can help you determine the best course of action. Do not sign any insurance paperwork or talk to any insurance representatives until you talk to a lawyer. In some cases, an accident victim will sign away their rights or agree to accept less than what they're entitled to for medical costs because they signed insurance claims too soon or were not aware of what they signed.

Who is liable or responsible for my injuries and property damage?

If you are injured in an accident involving a large commercial truck and the accident was not your fault, the driver, the trucking company, and sometimes the owner of the trailer or freight can all be held liable. It is also possible that there is other liability. If road damage or other hazards or obstructions contributed to the accident, other parties may also be liable. An experienced personal injury lawyer can utilize accident investigators to determine who is responsible and identify all the parties involved.

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Unsafe truck drivers increase serious injury risks for Missouri motorists

December 8, 2014

file3611246628400.jpgAs Missouri truck accident lawyers, we know that auto accidents often happen because of driver-related factors, such as speeding, fatigue, distractedness, and drug or alcohol impairment, just to name a few. These accidents can have serious, life-altering consequences for innocent victims - especially when the unsafe driver is behind the wheel of a semi-truck.

Unsafe truckers can pose a serious threat to the innocent motorists traveling near them - and what's more, many of these unsafe drivers have previous safety violations or have had their commercial driver's licenses (CDL) revoked or suspended. And yet they are still obtaining employment as drivers in the trucking industry. In this post, we discuss how this happens and what measures are in place to try and eliminate the problem.

CDL fraud...

CDL fraud is one of the reasons truck drivers without a valid CDL or without safe driving skills can still get a job driving a commercial vehicle. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General released the results of an investigation into CDL fraud. The investigation discovered criminal activity in at least 16 jurisdictions, and large-scale fraud in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and North Carolina. At that point, thousands of CDL holders were retested nationwide.

Part of the problem was that drivers with inadequate skills were allowed to pass the test anyway. The responsibility of testing lies with the state. In 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed, which requires each individual state to comply with federal commercial driver standards. Here in Missouri, the Missouri Department of Transportation administers CDL written tests and skill evaluations. In some states, a third party, or private company, administers the tests.

After the investigation...

Following the investigation, many truck driving schools and owners were convicted of fraud. One such company owner was convicted of falsifying the skills tests of 623 students, meaning that these truck drivers and many more like them were given a CDL when they did not qualify for one. Other cases involved bribing state testing officials. These practices put thousands of unsafe truck drivers on the road.

Since then, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented numerous measures to prevent this fraud. These measures included creating a safe driver data base, implementing a CDL third party testing anti-fraud system, and changing rules regarding the updating and sharing of driver's license records.Today, FMCSA officials are still working hard to reduce the number of fraudulent CDLs issued.

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What to do after a Missouri semi-truck accident: Tips & info for drivers

October 24, 2014

i-haul-299523-m.jpgAs Missouri auto accident lawyers, we know that being involved in any kind of auto accident can be a traumatic experience. When a crash involves a large semi-truck, however, the outcome can be catastrophic. Because of their sheer size and weight, it's common for semi-trucks to cause serious, life threatening injuries to the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles.

Statistics show that passenger vehicle occupants are extremely vulnerable to injury when they're involved in collisions with semis. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,514 people died in 2012 auto accidents involving semi-trucks. Of those deaths, 74% were the occupants of the semi-trucks; 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists; and 67% were the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles. In two vehicle accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck, 96% of fatal injury victims were passenger vehicle occupants.

All too often, the victims of these crashes - and their loved ones - find their lives are turned upside down in a split second. Would you know what to do if it happened to you? Below, our truck accident lawyers offer a few tips to help you be prepared, just in case the unthinkable happens.

I've been injured in a semi-truck crash: what should I do?

1. Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. First and foremost, you need to ensure you are evaluated by a medical professional. Sometimes, serious injuries - like broken bones - are easy to see, but in other cases, you may not know how badly you're hurt. Symptoms of certain internal injuries (like spinal cord damage and brain injuries) may not present themselves right away - it could be hours or even days before you realize you're hurt. The sooner you're seen by a doctor, the better.

2. Preserve important evidence. If possible, you'll want to photograph the scene of the crash. Also, be sure to save any paperwork you receive in connection with the accident, including the police report/witness statements, medical bills/reports, letters from insurance companies/trucking companies, etc. Keep all these materials in a binder to ensure nothing is misplaced.

3. Contact an experienced attorney. Certain complications can arise when filing a personal injury claim following a semi-truck crash. In addition to the truck driver, you'll likely be dealing with a trucking company and the company's insurer. An experienced personal injury lawyer can communicate with these parties on your behalf, allowing you to focus on recovery. An attorney can also help determine the scope of your expenses, both in the present and long term.

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Whiplash & other soft tissue injuries are common in Missouri semi-truck accidents

September 19, 2014

semi-truck-2-232052-m (1).jpgSemi-trucks are considerably larger and heavier than passenger vehicles - in fact, a fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as the average car or truck. When these large trucks collide with passenger vehicles, the result is often serious injury, usually to the passenger vehicle occupants. In 2012 fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a semi and a smaller vehicle, 96% of fatality vehicles were passenger vehicle occupants. In this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers discuss one common injury often caused by semi-truck/passenger vehicle crashes: whiplash.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a non-medical term referring to soft-tissue damage in the neck, often caused by the sudden jerking motion that occurs during rear-end or front-end collisions. According to WebMD, whiplash "is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints (located between vertebrae), discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged."

Whiplash: A few facts and statistics

• Annually, approximately 120,000 people suffer from whiplash throughout the U.S.

• Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries can occur at speeds as low as five miles per hour.

• About half of all soft tissue injuries in the neck can be attributed to auto accidents, many of them low-speed rear-end collisions.

What are the main symptoms of whiplash?

Symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately - in fact, they sometimes don't show up until hours (or even days) after an accident occurs. These symptoms may include:

• Pain or stiffness in the neck, lower back, shoulders, or between the shoulder blades
• Reduced range of motion
• Headaches that recur or escalate in intensity
• Pain or numbness in the arms or hands
• Burning, prickling, tingling, or other unusual sensations in the arms or hands
• Dizziness or blurred vision
• Difficulty sleeping, fatigue, or irritability

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Unsafe driving practices contribute to Missouri semi-truck accidents

semi-truck-2-232052-m.jpgHave you ever had the life scared out of you by a large commercial truck or semi-tractor trailer while you were trying to merge onto the highway? Have you been so sure a big rig was going to rear end you that you braced for impact? Or worse, have you or a loved one been the victim of a commercial truck accident? Our Missouri truck accident lawyers know all too well the how damaging tractor-trailer and commercial truck accidents can be. What's more, many of these accidents are 100% preventable: in fact, many are caused by irresponsible truck driving practices.

Key factors contributing to unsafe truck driving practices in Missouri:

• Some trucking companies fail to utilize the pre-employment screening program provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
• Some employees do not receive adequate training.
• Logs and other programs for safe driving quality assurance are sometimes not properly monitored.
• Some truck drivers avoid medical examinations, or provide false medical documents, meaning unsafe drivers are still being hired.
• Some drivers who should be suspended are able to obtain special permits or probationary licenses for drivers.

Unfortunately, many truck drivers are between a rock and a hard place at present. As trucking companies work to make a profit, truckers feel more pressure to drive longer hours at faster speeds, and to bend or even break federal regulatory rules and state laws. If they don't, they may find themselves jobless. This pressure creates the potential for reckless driving behaviors, which can lead to devastating accidents involving Missouri motorists who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What can Missouri truck accident lawyers do to hold the trucking industry accountable for these unsafe practices?

Aggressive and unlawful truck drivers make it even harder for the responsible truck drivers who follow the laws and drive safely. After a truck accident has occurred and negligence or wrongdoing has been discovered, a personal injury case or wrongful death suit can be an effective way to get a trucking company or unsafe driver to address dangerous practices - and to ensure accident victims are fairly compensated.

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Accidents involving semi-trucks and Missouri pedestrians can have catastrophic consequences

lonely-walk-951147-m.jpgOur Missouri truck accident attorneys urge you to be ever-cautious of big rigs, whether you're in a passenger vehicle, on a motorcycle, or on foot. Even though you'd like to believe that you won't get in an accident with a semi (because you'd obviously see it coming), the fact remains that large trucks are responsible for about 1 in 10 fatal accidents nationwide.

Collisions between semi-trucks and pedestrians are not as uncommon as you might think. Because of their massive size and weight, large trucks are often unable to react quickly enough when a pedestrian (or another vehicle) suddenly appears in front of them.

In many cases, highway pedestrians are motorists who break down and wind up stranded. It is not uncommon for drivers with disabled vehicles to become victims of fatal traffic accidents, even though they're not even driving.

Staying safe in traffic - as a driver or a pedestrian - requires that you keep track of what's happening around you. In the event of a highway break down, there are a number of safety precautions you can take to ensure that you and your passengers stay safe while you wait for help.

Being safe when you're stranded: A few safety tips:

* Always keep a cell phone with you for emergency situations.

* If your car breaks down, make sure you pull off the roadway to the right (as far as possible).

* Activate your emergency flashers to warn other vehicles and law enforcement of the location of your disabled vehicle.

* Call law enforcement, a friend, a family member or roadside assistance for help.

* Be patient when you're waiting for assistance to arrive. Remember that it may take them a while to navigate through any traffic delay that your disabled vehicle may have caused.

* Keep emergency equipment in your vehicle, including a flashlight, emergency flares and basic tools that may help to fix minor problems with your car.

* If your car has broken down and cannot be moved, be sure to keep everyone inside the car with seat belts on. Turn on your car's hazard lights and stay there until help arrives.

* Set up roadside flares, cones and emergency warning signs if possible.

* Don't get into the car with someone you don't know. This goes for emergency responders as well. Always ask for identification first.

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Preventing semi-truck accidents in Missouri: How drivers can be proactive

299523_i_haul_.jpgMissouri semi-truck accidents can result in serious, life-threatening injuries, especially when they involve smaller passenger vehicles that are no match for these large trucks. The good news: when drivers are attentive and proactive, many of these dangerous crashes can be prevented. In this post, our Springfield personal injury lawyers discuss the importance of responsible, defensive driving, especially when sharing the road with a semi.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has identified several behaviors in passenger vehicle drivers that commonly contribute to collisions involving semi-trucks. According to FMCSA officials, these behaviors fit into four key categories:

• Errors in judgment. FMCSA officials say inattention is the leading contributing factor in semi-truck/ passenger vehicle accidents. Regardless of the source, driver distraction inevitably leads to lapses in judgment - and when you're traveling near a semi, running a red light or stop sign can be a deadly mistake. The best way to avoid a collision is to stay completely focused on the task of driving.

• Speed-related behaviors. The faster you're going, the less time you have to react when unexpected situations present themselves - and compared to passenger vehicles, loaded semi-trucks can require 20 to 40% farther to stop. Speed also affects an accident's severity because it increases crash energy - in other words, accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries when they occur at high speeds. It's essential that drivers adjust their speed for roadway conditions. Slow down when you're traveling in inclement weather, passing through a construction zone, or dealing with heavy traffic, and allow plenty of extra space, particularly when following a semi.

• Right-of-way or headway-related behaviors. Failing to yield the right-of-way to a large truck can be extremely dangerous. Never cut off or pull out in front of a semi, because it may not be possible for a trucker to slow down or stop in time to avoid hitting you. Assessing headway (the distance between one vehicle and another approaching vehicle) can also be difficult when it comes to large trucks. Because of their size, semi-trucks can appear to be moving slower than they actually are. Always err on the side of caution when passing, turning and crossing the roadway in front of an oncoming semi.

• Lane change or position problems. FMCSA officials cite several risky behaviors that fall into this category, including merging improperly and changing lanes abruptly in front of a large truck. Remember that trucks handle very differently than passenger vehicles, and they're often unable to execute sudden maneuvers. You'll also want to avoid lingering in a semi's oversized blind spots - remember, if you can't see a truck's side mirrors, the driver can't see you.

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Sharing the road safely: Tips to help you avoid Missouri semi-truck accidents

file8531247160523.jpgSharing the road with semi-trucks is an inevitable part of roadway travel in Missouri. In order to travel safely, drivers of smaller passenger vehicles must be mindful of large trucks' physical capabilities and limitations. In this post, our auto accident lawyers share some basic safety tips to help you avoid accidents involving semis and arrive safely at your destination.

Make yourself visible to truck drivers. Because of their size and height, semi-trucks have much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. Remember, semi-trucks don't have rearview mirrors: if you can't see a trucker's side mirrors, he can't see you. Avoid lingering in a semi-truck's blind spots, which exist along the front end of the truck and down the sides of the truck's trailer.

Allow extra space between your vehicle and a semi-truck. Following a semi too closely can be incredibly dangerous. If a trucker attempts to perform an emergency maneuver and you rear-end the trailer, you can suffer serious, even life threatening injuries. Safety advocates say you should leave about 20 to 25 car lengths between your vehicle and a semi traveling in front of you. In inclement weather or in poor roadway conditions, you'll want to leave even more space.

Never cut off or cut in front of a semi-truck. Semi-trucks can't execute emergency maneuvers as quickly or as efficiently as passenger vehicles, because they're simply too large and too heavy. Cutting in front of a semi could be a deadly mistake, as the trucker may be unable to slow down in time to avoid a collision. On average, a fully loaded semi requires approximately 20 to 40% farther to stop, compared to most passenger vehicles.

Be cautious when passing a semi-truck. When passing a semi, do so quickly while maintaining a consistent speed and stay toward the outside of your lane. Never pass a large truck on the right - a trucker's blind spots are even larger on that side of the vehicle. After passing, be sure to wait until you can see the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror to shift back into the right lane.

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5 FAQs answered for Missouri semi-truck accident victims

540394_car_accident.jpgIn this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers answer five questions we frequently hear from the victims of semi-truck crashes.

Missouri semi-truck accidents: Five frequently asked questions

1. What is a commercial truck?
A commercial truck is a large vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds that is used in the transportation of goods or related business. These trucks typically consist of a single-unit truck or tractor and one or more trailers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets a commercial vehicle maximum weight of 80,000 pounds. This means that commercial trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as the average passenger vehicle, and they typically require 20 to 40% farther to come to a complete stop.

2. Are semi-truck accidents more dangerous than collisions involving other kinds of vehicles?
Yes, especially for the occupants of passenger cars and trucks. In collisions involving semis and smaller vehicles, occupants of the small vehicles are considerably more vulnerable to serious, life threatening injury. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,413 people were killed in U.S. crashes involving commercial trucks. Of those fatalities, only 14% were the occupants of the commercial trucks. By comparison, 72% of those killed were occupants of passenger vehicles, and 13% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.

3. What factors commonly contribute to collisions between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles?
There are several factors that often play a role in semi-truck accidents, including the following: driver error; fatigue; distraction; speeding; truck limits (such as braking distance and visibility); equipment failure; and improperly loaded trailers.

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What causes Missouri semi-truck accidents? Three common contributing factors

531576_truck_wheels.jpgAs Missouri personal injury lawyers, we know that accidents involving large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles often have disastrous consequences. More often than not, it's passenger vehicle occupants who suffer serious, life-threatening injuries in these crashes. In 2011 semi-truck accidents, passenger vehicle occupants accounted for 66% of fatalities, while only 16% of the fatally injured were the occupants of large trucks. So, what factors contribute to these devastating crashes? In this post, we discuss three leading causes of accidents involving large commercial vehicles.

Common causes of Missouri semi-truck accidents

1. Driver fatigue. Because fatigue has proven to have an extremely detrimental effect on truckers' driving performance, federal regulations exist to limit the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel in a single shift. Unfortunately, some drivers and companies simply don't comply with these regulations. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Large Truck Crash Causation study, 13% of semi-truck drivers who were involved in crashes were found to be fatigued. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that truckers who have been driving for more than an eight-hour stretch are twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

2. Driver distraction. Effective January 3, 2012, federal law prohibits all commercial truck drivers from using a hand-held cell phone while driving. The national ban was enacted in response to several studies that found any form of cell phone use significantly increased a trucker's accident risks. One such study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, found that a "safety-critical event" is 163 times more likely to occur when a truck driver is using a cell phone to text, email, or surf the internet. In fact, simply reaching for a hand-held electronic device makes a trucker about three times more likely to cause an accident. And cell phones aren't the only source of driver distraction: FMCSA officials say eating, drinking, smoking, and fixating on "non-driving related objects" can also increase a truck driver's crash risk.

3. Speeding. FMCSA officials say speed is a key contributing factor in many semi-truck accidents. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 23% of semi-truck accidents occurred when truckers were traveling too fast for conditions, which is defined as "traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving." Large trucks handle very differently than passenger vehicles, so it's imperative that truckers adjust their speed accordingly when they encounter wet roads, heavy traffic, construction zones, and other potential hazards. Failing to do so can be a fatal mistake.

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"Tailgating" a major cause of Missouri accidents involving semi-trucks

February 7, 2014

Thumbnail image for IMG_8832a.jpgHave you ever wondered how following distance - the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle traveling in front of you - plays a role in Missouri truck accidents? You might have noticed that when traffic is heavy, the distance between the front and rear bumpers tends to be smaller. It can even become a fight to keep the distance small enough to prevent another vehicle from cutting in front of you. The problem with this particular driving behavior - known as "tailgating" - is that it is a major contributor to many Missouri traffic accidents. And when it comes to truck accidents, following too closely is not only a contributing factor: it can cause increased damage and serious injury or death.

Missouri Accident Statistics

  • Of the major cities, 15.8 percent of tractor trailer and truck accidents occur in St. Louis, 15.1 percent in Kansas City, 5.1 percent in Springfield. The highest number of truck accidents occur on U.S. highways, followed by interstate and state numbered roads. The highest number of property damage accidents happen on city streets. The vast majority of truck accidents are, of course, along the major highway thoroughfares of I-70 and I-44.

  • In 2010 commercial vehicles, which includes trucks, tractor trailers and buses, were involved in 9 percent of all traffic accidents in Missouri. That percentage is even greater for fatal traffic accidents (12.6 percent).

  • In 2010 105 people were killed and 4,007 people were injured in accidents involving a big truck, tractor trailer, or other commercial motor vehicle.

  • Over half of these accidents, 58.7 percent, occurred in an urban area, however of all the fatal crashes, 72.2 occurred in a rural area, along those major truck routes.

  • 25 of the people killed were drivers.

  • 86 percent of truck or bus accidents occurred on a straight road

  • 69 percent occurred on a level road

  • 29 percent occurred on a hill

  • 79 percent occurred on dry roads

  • 14.5 percent occurred on wet roads

Truck accidents are equally distributed throughout the year and mostly occur on week days. While truck accidents occur around the clock, a significant number occur between 7 am until 7 pm, when big rigs share the road with passenger cars and light trucks.


Given this data, it is clear that semi-truck accidents are extremely dangerous, particularly for the drivers of passenger vehicles. Leaving plenty of room between you and another vehicle is one of the best ways to avoid a serious truck accident. A large truck takes a lot longer to stop and has a massive amount of force - so be patient and give yourself plenty of room, just in case.

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Avoiding semi-truck accidents: Five tips for Missouri drivers

January 24, 2014

truck-768072-m.jpgSharing the road with a semi-truck can be challenging, especially when traffic is heavy or road conditions are bad. In this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers provide five tips to help you avoid being involved in an accident with a large commercial vehicle.

Preventing semi-truck accidents: Five tips for Missouri drivers

1. Pay attention. Of the thousands of car accidents that happen in the United States every year, very few are unpreventable. In fact, all too many of these accidents occur simply because drivers aren't paying attention - a mistake that can be deadly, especially if you're traveling near a large truck. Put away your phone, have a passenger tune the stereo, and don't be a rubbernecker - someone who gets distracted by objects or happenings outside their vehicle, like another car accident. Keeping your eyes - and your focus - on the road can go a long way toward preventing many serious accidents.

2. Don't linger in a large truck's blind spot. Annually, experts say over 413,000 accidents are caused by blind spots, and specifically, one-third of fatal accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a semi occur within a semi's large, dangerous blind spots, which are known as "No Zones." These spots are located to the left and right of the truck's cab, immediately in front of the truck, and behind the trailer. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you can't see a truck's mirrors, the driver can't see you. When you're passing, following, or changing lanes near a semi, be mindful of the truck's blind spots and proceed with caution.

3. Don't cut off a semi-truck. Because they are large and extremely heavy, semi-trucks require twice as much time and space to stop than average passenger vehicles , and that's when roadway conditions are good. If you cut in front of a semi, the driver may be simply unable to stop in time to avoid a collision.

4. Be predictable and use your signals. Since truck drivers need extra time to react to roadway hazards, you can help make the road safer by making your intentions clear and predictable. Maintain a consistent speed, pass on the left side, and be sure to signal in advance (at least three full seconds) before turning or changing lanes.

5. Be respectful of other motorists, including truck drivers. A little common courtesy can go a long way. Remember that everyone on the road is trying to get from Point A to Point B: stay calm, be patient, and make safety your top priority.

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