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Truck Accidents in Louisiana: Facts and Statistics

Posted in Truck Accidents on March 26, 2020

Accidents with large vehicles like commercial trucks are incredibly dangerous and pose a high risk of devastating consequences. A number of factors create the dangerous situation surrounding commercial trucks, including their size and weight, the potential that they are carrying hazardous materials, and the skill and attention required to drive the large vehicles.

Given all of the above, the statistics around commercial truck accidents in Louisiana are sobering. Read on to learn more about commercial truck accidents and what to do if you find yourself a victim of such an accident.

Commercial Vehicle Crash Statistics

In 2017, there were approximately 450,000 reported crashes involving large trucks across the United States. Of this number, over 4,000 included at least one fatality, and 344,000 involved injuries. In Louisiana, data shows that in 2019, there were 655 fatal crashes, and 103 of these crashes involved large trucks or buses. These numbers reflect the over-representation of fatal accidents involving these large vehicles. While commercial vehicles are not likely to represent 15% of vehicles on the road, they were involved in over 15% of fatal accidents.

Commercial vehicles are also notable contributors to injury crashes in Louisiana. Out of 44,116 injury crashes, large trucks and buses were involved in 2,719 or 6.2%. These numbers certainly show that commercial vehicles are a risk on the road.

Risk Factors for Commercial Trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has identified a number of factors that contribute to the higher fatality and injury risk associated with commercial truck accidents.

Driver Skill

Given their size and weight, commercial trucks require special skill and practice to drive safely. If a driver is not prepared to handle the risks caused by poor reaction time or over-adjustment, such as jackknifing, this contributes to the risk of deadly accidents.

In Louisiana, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required for operation of a commercial vehicle. The CDL requirements include a driving or skills test, including skills such as a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control skills, and safe on-road driving skills. While these are good starting points, they don’t ensure that any driver has received formal education and do not ensure they will receive ongoing education throughout their time as a commercial truck driver.

Driver Inattention and Distraction

Inattention and distraction are another leading reason for commercial truck accidents. This is not surprising given the long hours drivers spend on the road, making them particularly susceptible to drowsiness or distracted driving.

The FMCSA has promulgated a number of rules in hopes of reducing the concerns around distracted and drowsy driving, including:

  • Texting and mobile phone restrictions for commercial drivers, including a complete ban on texting while driving. Additionally, drivers are prohibited from reaching for or holding a mobile phone to conduct a voice communication.
  • A number of regulations around hours of service, including an 11 hour driving limit and only after ten consecutive hours off duty, required rest breaks, and limits on the number of hours driving in a single week.

These regulations are only effective preventative measures if followed. It is incumbent upon the commercial vehicle drivers and their employers to ensure that appropriate safety measures are taken.

Environmental Conditions

Environmental and road conditions pose more serious threats for commercial truck drivers than other drivers. The size and weight of the vehicles means that they will be unable to react quickly to a change in conditions. It also means that any overcorrection can cause serious consequences.

Two common circumstances that are likely to cause accidents resulting from environmental and road conditions are jackknife accidents and rollovers. Jackknife accidents occur when a commercial truck skids, and the driver is unable to correct the trajectory of the vehicle. This causes the trailer to swing to the side, creating a 90 degree angle between the cab and the trailer. Rollovers occur either when a vehicle leaves the roadway and digs it tires into soft soil or strikes an object or when movement at high speed causes uneven weight distribution.

Responsibility for a Truck Accident

If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, you may be wondering who is responsible for your injuries and damage to your property. In order to recover damages from another party, you must be able to prove that they acted negligently or intentionally in a way that caused your injuries. Two parties who may have acted negligently include:

  • Truck Driver. The truck driver may have been driving or otherwise acting in a negligent manner that caused the accident. Examples of negligence include:
    • Failure to secure a CDL;
    • Distracted or drowsy driving;
    • Driving at excessive speeds or under the influence of alcohol; or
    • Any other traffic violation
  • Driver’s Employer. If the truck driver works for a company, the employer may have also acted in a negligent fashion. For example, the company hired the driver without confirming that they had the appropriate licensing, this might be considered negligence. Additional examples of employer negligence would be failure to enforce the federal regulations around hours of service or failure to properly maintain the vehicle driven by the driver.

Establishing negligence is a fact intensive analysis that may involve a number of parties as well as their insurance providers. The parties are unlikely to admit fault and may try to convince you to settle your claim for much less than you deserve. A licensed attorney can help you evaluate the strength of the evidence of negligence and communicate with all the relevant parties.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you have been in an accident with a commercial truck, it is likely a stressful time in your life as you manage your injuries, communicate with insurance companies, and think about recovering damages. An experienced attorney can help ease the stress by evaluating evidence, preparing a comprehensive assessment of your potential damages, and preparing a strategy for recovery. Contact the Law Office John W. Redmann, LLC at (504) 500-5000 or through the website to schedule a free consultation regarding the circumstances of your case.