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Are Self-Driving Trucks Going to Be on the Roads Soon?

Truck and highwayTrucks are an incredibly important part of the U.S. economy, because they haul almost every type of good purchased from its manufacturing point to its sale point. There is currently a major shortage of truck drivers, with at least 50,000 jobs remaining unfilled of the 1.7 trucking positions in the U.S.

Will self-driving trucks step in to fill the bill — and to help pave the path to autonomous vehicles even more?

Human Drivers Still at the Wheel

Self-driving trucks show a great deal of promise. They can speed delivery of loads by operating while human drivers would have to sleep. And, like other autonomous vehicles, they do have the potential of making smart safety and route decisions, which could help truck safety and efficiency.

Some companies are trying to capture that promise. Uber is prominent among them. As of 2017, Uber was operating self-driving trucks on Arizona’s roads. A self-driving vehicle also carried a freight load in Colorado, although its operation without a human doesn’t appear to be ongoing.

But human-less trucks are not yet in operation. In Arizona, a human driver is at the wheel as a backup to the trucks autonomous decisions, and can drive the truck immediately if necessary. The Colorado route was done with a human in the back of the truck, but that doesn’t appear to have been repeated.

There are two reasons for the human presence. The first is regulation. Both the United States government and each state regulate trucking. Self-driving trucks haven’t fully cleared the regulatory hurdles to be approved to drive on all roads.

In Arizona, Uber’s self-driving trucks are operated only on highways, bypassing smaller state and county roads. And that’s in a state whose lawmakers welcomed Uber using the state as a laboratory for self-driving vehicles.

In Colorado, the same is true – the self-driving truck was operated on the highway only.

The second is technology. The MIT Technology Review observes that the technical hurdles to have autonomous trucks be fully operational and safe are greater than those for autonomous cars. While the technology is promising, it hasn’t been fully proven to be workable.

In part, the issue is one of data. Companies developing fully autonomous trucks need to test them in a multitude of conditions, including road, weather, potential crash situations, and more. The testing is still ongoing. In fact, Arizona is something of a real-time testing lab for the operation of autonomous trucks with drivers at the wheel.

More Self-Driving Trucks on the Road?

Industry observers do expect more self-driving trucks on the road eventually. But it is not going to be next year. It may not even be within 5 years.

Why? Well, testing takes time. Regulatory approval from all the agencies that regulate trucking can take even longer. Any accidents, such as the Uber self-driving car crash that killed an Arizona woman earlier this year, may delay the implementation of self-driving trucks even more.

So while self-trucking trucks may be the future of U.S. transportation, they are not a sizable part of its present.

Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers in Southern California

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or been killed in a truck accident in the Los Angeles area, Ellis Injury Law Firm can help. We are experienced truck accident attorneys with 20 years of experience in truck collisions.

While the law and possible causes surrounding truck accidents are complex, we fight for your rights aggressively. Please call today for a free appointment to discuss your case with a seasoned LA truck accident lawyer, at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources:

  1. Freedman, David. “Tractor-trailers without a human at the wheel will soon barrel onto highways near you. What will this mean for the nation’s 1.7 million truck drivers?” MIT Technology Review. March/April 2017.  https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603493/10-breakthrough-technologies-2017-self-driving-trucks/
  2. McFarland, Matt. “Uber self-driving trucks are now hauling freight.” CNN. March 7, 2018. https://money.cnn.com/2018/03/07/technology/uber-trucks-autonomous/index.html

Unsecure Truck Cargo a Leading Cause of Crashes

Big rig semi truckThousands of serious road accidents every year are attributed to truck cargo that is improperly secured. California drivers are accustomed to sharing the highway with commercial vehicles hauling heavy and potentially hazardous cargo. Whether transporting dressed lumber, metal pipes, building materials or household goods, this freight can spill, leak or fall off the vehicle if not adequately restrained and immobilized.

Unsecured truck cargo accidents

Imagine driving 70 mph down the 101 only to find a giant metal beam or mattress lying in the middle of the freeway. Incidents like these are exceedingly common and a recipe for disaster. According to a study by the AAA, dangerous road debris was the cause of more than 200,000 accidents and 500 traffic deaths from 2011 and 2014.  Though national statistics aren’t available, it is reasonable to assume that a large portion of these crashes involved 18-wheelers and tractor trailers that failed to tie down their cargo.

Cargo securement devices can include tiedowns, synthetic webbing, wire ropes, binders, winches, shackles and steel strapping. According to the North American Cargo Securement Standard, all drivers of commercial motor vehicles must ensure that their freight is evenly distributed and effectively secured. Cargo cannot shift while the vehicle is in transit and must be fully restrained against horizontal movement.

Many unsecured freight load accidents happen at high speeds, posing even more danger. Large, heavy materials can act as deadly projectiles as they fly off the trucks and into following vehicles.

Proving liability

Sadly, many of these accidents are entirely preventable, if trucking companies and their drivers followed standard cargo securement regulations. Trucking is a multi-billion dollar industry plagued by tight deadlines, grueling schedules and a high turnover rate.

Those who are seriously harmed in a crash caused by unsecured truck cargo would likely think the truck driver is wholly liable, but other parties may have played a role as well:

  • The trucking company may be on the hook for the actions of wrongdoing of their employees if they failed to adhere to load securement guidelines
  • The truck driver may be held accountable if they were negligent in their duty to inspect and ensure securing devices were in good working order and the cargo was properly restrained
  • Third party contractors – trucking companies may outsource the work to third party companies that are hired to load and tie down large cargo

Recover the damages you deserve

Although truck accidents are common in California, crashes involving unsecured truck cargo require detailed investigations to establish at-fault parties and secure the compensation that victims deserve.

Some of the possible scenarios that could yield a viable claim for damages:

  • Trailer doors are not locked
  • Cargo is unbalanced due to shoddy loading
  • Missing or defective restraining devices
  • Failure to properly secure cargo
  • Lack of routine maintenance

Call the Ellis Law Firm for a complimentary consultation with truck accident lawyers Los Angeles residents have come to respect. For over 25 years, our award-winning law firm has been protecting the rights of injury victims throughout California. We can be reached 24/7 by dialing 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources on Unsecured Cargo Road Accidents:

  1. FMCSA, Cargo Securement Rules https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/cargo-securement/cargo-securement-rules
  2. CBS News, AAA Report Shows Dangers Of Debris On The Roads http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/08/11/aaa-debris-dangers-study/
  3. AAA Foundation, Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014 https://aaafoundation.org/prevalence-motor-vehicle-crashes-involving-road-debris-united-states-2011-2014/

Legislative Push to Prevent Deaths with Truck Underride Guards

big rig semi truck

When a heavy tractor trailer strikes a small passenger car, there is little doubt about the likely outcome. Smaller vehicles simply can’t withstand the tremendous force of a big rig. One of the many ways in which a big rig accident can turn deadly is when a smaller vehicle slides underneath the truck. This shears off or crushes the top of the car. The individuals inside the passenger car have no defense against the steel frame of the big rig. Decapitations are not unheard of in these types of crashes. Trailers and semitrailers are already supposed to follow the underride guard requirements established in the mid-90s, but public safety advocates say these aren’t doing enough to prevent these horrific crashes.

Senators push for protective regulations

The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 is a bipartisan effort to protect drivers and passengers. If it passes and is signed into law, it’s expected to prevent countless deaths and catastrophic injuries in the years to come. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and has received enthusiastic support by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 would require tractor trailers to have underride guards installed on the front and sides of the truck (closing a critical loophole in the original legislation), and it would update the requirements for the underride guard on the rear of the truck. The bill would also require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct routine inspections to check that all of the guards have been installed and maintained properly.

Another requirement of this legislation would institute annual reviews of underride guard standards. The structures would be evaluated for effectiveness and safety. Additional requirements can be added as vehicle safety technology improves.

Effort comes too late for many families

Although this legislation would, if passed, save lives in the future, this is likely to offer cold comfort to the families of those who have already lost their lives in underride crashes. One of the latest such crashes occurred on January 2, 2018 on I-90 in New York. Sixty-four-year-old Edward “Eto” Torres was traveling eastbound behind the big rig, when the truck braked abruptly in response to a separate accident ahead. Torres was not able to brake in time, and his car slid underneath the big rig, killing him. Sen. Schumer recently joined the family, and renewed his support for the Stop Underrides Act of 2017.

Ellis Law applauds legislative effort to improve safety

The Los Angeles truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law are pleased to see any efforts made by elected officials or government agencies to improve public safety on our nation’s roadways. We work with injured individuals and their families every day, and know all too well the hardship they suffer in the wake of a catastrophic truck crash. If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, you can schedule a complimentary consultation at our southern California law firm. We charge no fees unless we win money for you!

Additional resources for truck accident survivors

  1. Congress.gov, S.2219 – Stop Underrides Act of 2017, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2219/text
  2. Charles E. Schumer, FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT ON I-90, SCHUMER PUSHES TO MAKE TRUCK RIGS SAFER FOR CARS SHARING THE ROADS; SENATOR DEMANDS TRUCKS BE EQUIPPED WITH CRASH-ABSORBING “UNDERRIDE GUARDS” TO PROTECT DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS AND TO HELP PREVENT FUTURE FATAL ACCIDENTS, https://www.schumer.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/following-fatal-accident-on-i-90-schumer-pushes-to-make-truck-rigs-safer-for-cars-sharing-the-roads-senator-demands-trucks-be-equipped-with-crash-absorbing-underride-guards-to-protect-drivers-and-passengers-and-to-help-prevent-future-fatal-accidents

3 Ways a Truck Can Total Your Car

Destroyed windshield and front part of car after accident.18-wheelers weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger car, tipping the scales at a monstrous 80,000 pounds. The trailer hitched to the powerful truck engine measures 54 feet long — compare that to the typical family car which spans less than 16 feet. There are nearly 6 million tractor trailers registered in the U.S., and a third of these are in California, Florida and Texas. The immense size and weight of modern big rigs, coupled with their slow braking abilities, poses a major risk to even the most safety-conscious of motorists.

Whether caused by equipment failure, mechanical malfunction, poor road conditions or human error, truck accidents result in life-threatening injury, loss of life and – in many cases – extensive property damage to all vehicles involved.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, fully loaded 18-wheelers take 30 to 40 percent farther than passenger cars to stop, and this discrepancy is even bigger on icy or wet roads. With this in mind, you can see why smaller vehicles are extremely vulnerable to collateral damage in the event of a collision.

3 truck accidents that cause collateral damage

  • Jacknife dangers –Since 1997, federal authorities have required all commercial trucks to install anti-lock brakes. This safety measure has lowered the rate of jackknife crashes, where the rear wheels freeze up, swinging the trailer around to a 90-degree angle with the cab of the truck. Most jackknife accidents occur when the truck operator slams on the brakes quickly because they were following too closely or failed to take prompt evasive actions . As the trailer slides out to an acute angle, sometimes taking up both lanes, it can smash into other vehicles in its path, giving rise to a domino effect.
  • Truck Rollovers – Federal transportation figures indicate that truck rollovers are among the most dangerous type of 18-wheeler accident, both in terms of personal injury and property damage. Some of the most cited causes of truck rollovers include: unbalanced cargo, overcorrection when steering, speeding, fatigue, driver distraction or sudden lane changes. Vehicles that are caught in the path of an overturning big rig are often completely totaled. If the truck is hauling hazardous or flammable materials, there is also the chance of an explosion or fire.
  • Side/Rear Underride Accidents – Underride collisions represent 25 percent of all fatalities in accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles. Side underride collisions, in which a car slides underneath the broad side of a tractor trailer, is the most lethal, accounting for 200 deaths every year. In these gruesome collisions, the top of the vehicle is normally sheered off completely, often killing occupants instantly. Side underride accidents typically occur when the truck driver is trying to complete a U-turn or attempting to cross traffic. Due to low visibility or an absence of lights on the trailer’s side, motorists don’t see the truck until it is too late. Rear underride crashes have the same effects and normally happen when a poorly-marked trailer is moving slowly or parked by the side of the road. Unfortunately, semis are not yet required to add side underride guards, which have been proven to prevent fatal collisions.

Schedule a free legal consultation

Ellis Injury Law has the resources and experience to take on large trucking companies to get clients the compensation they deserve. If you were involved in a collision that caused injury and vehicle damage, speak with a Los Angeles truck accident attorney about protecting your rights. We offer complimentary case reviews to all prospective clients. Dial 1-800-INJURED today.

Additional Resources: 

  1. Cars Direct, How Insurers Determine That a Car is a Totaled Car https://www.carsdirect.com/car-insurance/how-do-they-determine-if-a-car-is-totaled
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Large trucks http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks
  3. ABC News, AAA Study: Car-Truck Study http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130212&page=1

Southern California’s 5 Most Dangerous Highways

truck desertLos Angeles County again ranks number one in California for having the highest rate of traffic fatalities. In 2016, according to the most recent available data from the National Highway Safety Administration, 3,623 Californians died in motor vehicle accidents. More than 790 of those deaths took place in L.A. County — marking a 22 percent uptick in the past four years.

As any local resident knows, Southern California’s highways are congested and fraught with dangers, including poor road conditions, sharp curves, fatigued truck drivers, distracted motorists and drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol.

Some freeways and interstates are more hazardous than others. Here are five of the region’s most dangerous highways.

Southern California’s deadliest highways

Take extra precautions when driving on the following roads.

  1. Interstate 10 – The I-10 has the distinction of being Los Angeles’ first freeway. This busy interstate highway is notorious for its disproportionately high number of vehicle accidents and fatalities. Owing to the high traffic volume and speeding drivers, it comes as no surprise that Interstate 10 is a common site of single vehicle and commercial truck crashes.
  2. State Road 138- According to federal crash data, State Road 138, which runs through parts of L.A. and San Bernardino Counties, is among Southern California’s most dangerous routes. Sections of the road are infamous for the steep mountainous terrain, sharp turns and sheer drop-offs. Rt 138 has been called “Death Trap Highway,” because of its high number of traffic fatalities.
  3. Interstate 5 – Linking San Diego up through Redding and beyond, the I-5 is an integral part of the California Freeway system, hosting more than 1 million motorists each day. This major coastal freeway is home to dozens of fatal accidents annually, particularly in Orange County where large numbers of 18-wheelers increase the risk of serious collisions.
  4. Interstate 15 – The I-15 is a well-traveled state highway that connects San Bernadino, San Diego and Riverside Counties. The stretch between Las Vegas and Los Angeles has been ranked one of the deadliest roads in the U.S. by the Scripps Howard News Service.
  5. State Route 126 – This scenic road that follows the Santa Clara River through Ventura and L.A. Counties has been dubbed “Bloody Alley,” thanks to its long history of gruesome traffic accidents. There is a 7-mile stretch of 126 from Hallock Drive in Santa Paula to E Street in Fillmore that is particularly dangerous. Many of the collisions involve speeding drivers and slow-moving agricultural vehicles that are common in the area.

Free consultation with Los Angeles car accident attorneys

Unfortunately, some of these dangerous roads are used by daily commuters, while others are preferred routes for outings farther afield. Whether caused by road debris, poor navigability or inattentive drivers, vehicle accidents on these busy freeways frequently result in catastrophic or fatal injuries.

If you or a loved one were injured by a negligent driver in California, monetary damages may be available to pay for your lost wages, hospital bills, loss of future earnings, and emotional pain and suffering. In the wake of any type of vehicle crash, you need to speak with an experienced Los Angeles truck accident attorney who has the resources and knowledge to get serious results.

Ellis Injury Law is an award-winning personal injury firm boasting 25 years of successful case results. Schedule a free consultation today by calling our Los Angeles headquarters at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources on California’s Dangerous Highways:

  1. CBS News, Fatal highways: America’s 9 most dangerous places for drivers https://www.cbsnews.com/media/fatal-highways-americas-9-most-dangerous-places-for-drivers/
  2. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts for California 2012-2016 https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest?_program=%2FProduction%2FApps%2FSTSI%2FCountyList
  3. VCReporter, Highway 126 remains a dangerous problem https://www.vcreporter.com/2016/10/blood-alley-highway-126-remains-a-dangerous-problem/

5 Safety Tips for Driving Around Big Trucks

truck desertIf you live in Southern California, you are no stranger to driving around commercial vehicles including big trucks, tractor trailers and buses. The average passenger car weighs 4,000 pounds while an 18-wheeler tips the scales at nearly 80,000 pounds. It’s no wonder that when the two collide, life-threatening injuries result. While many truck accident fatalities are attributed to drowsy truckers on long hauls, shifting cargo or even brake failure, recent studies indicate that passenger car drivers may be equally to blame.

Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take to avoid becoming another statistic. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers some tips that highlight the importance of driving cautiously around semis and large commercial vehicles.

Semi-trucks have unique challenges

18-wheelers and large trucks have special considerations to be aware of:

  • Huge blind spots, known as “No Zones”– Compared to passenger vehicles, truck drivers have a reduced field of vision thanks to multiple blind spots in front and behind their rigs, and along both sides.
  • Wider turning radius – Semi trucks have a turning radius of nearly 55 feet and need extra space to make turns, particularly right hand turns
  • Longer stopping times – An 18-wheeler that is traveling 65 mph will need 200 yards (equivalent to 2 football fields) to stop
  • Reduced maneuverability – Due to the large surface area of the rig, truck drivers have less control over their vehicles during windy conditions. In addition, semis have slower reaction times

Tips for safely driving around big trucks

Avoid a potentially dangerous truck crash by following these 5 safety tips:

  1. Never drive in a truck’s No Zones – Remember that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror, he can’t see you either. Avoid driving in these blind spots.
  2. Learn to pass safely – Avoid passing tractor trailers on a downgrade and always try and pass on the left side. Put your turn signal on early and make sure you see the driver in the mirror before passing
  3. Stay back and allow extra space – Large commercial vehicle need extra space and time to stop, slow down and turn. Maintain a safe distance (10 car length gap) and never tailgate
  4. Don’t cut in too close – Heavy trucks take 40 percent longer to stop than the average vehicle. Allow ample space when merging or changing lanes to avoid a crash.
  5. Maintain a consistent speed around large trucks and be sure to adjust according to weather and road conditions

By understanding the operational limitations of large trucks, passenger vehicle drivers can exercise more caution and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Free consult with California truck accident lawyers

Ellis Law truck accident attorneys represent personal injury victims throughout Southern California. If you or a loved one was seriously harmed in a commercial vehicle crash, we invite you to reach out for a free case evaluation. Call our Los Angeles headquarters today at 1-800-INJURED.  

Additional Resources for Driving Safely Near Large Trucks:

  1. FMCSA, Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses
  2. Life Hacker, A Trucker’s Best Safety Tips for Driving Around a Big Rig on the Highway http://lifehacker.com/a-truckers-best-safety-tips-for-driving-around-a-big-ri-1734797722
  3. State Farm, Safely Share the Road with Large Trucks https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/safety/safely-share-the-road-with-large-trucks

Common Lawsuit Tricks Used by Trucking Companies

Big rig semi truckThroughout all of California, Los Angeles County has one of the highest rates of fatalities in crashes involving large commercial trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 18 wheelers, semi-trucks, flat beds, tractor trailers and other kinds of big rigs tip the scales at more than 80,000 pounds, so it comes as no surprise that truck accidents are some of the most catastrophic, often causing severe, disabling injuries.

Getting hurt in a truck accident is traumatic enough, but getting swindled out of a fair injury settlement can make an already dire situation even more unbearable. Trucking is big business in America, and the trucking industry is no stranger to personal injury litigation. The unfortunate reality is that trucking companies and their insurance adjustors employ several tricks to minimize payouts, leaving victims and their families on the hook for costly hospital bills, treatment fees, repairs, lost wages and other damages.

Trucking companies may not play fair

Attorneys who specialize in commercial vehicle accidents have first-hand knowledge of the tricks used by trucking companies, their legal counsel and insurers to minimize settlements in injury claims. In the wake of an accident, don’t be fooled by the friendly phone call or email from a “third-party” insurance rep or risk manager who seems to care about your future — their primary goal is to limit payouts. These professionals will use every tool at their disposal to deny/delay your claim and do not have your best interests at heart.

Protect your rights to fair compensation by working with a reputable Los Angeles truck accident lawyer who knows how to level the playing field. The following are five of the most commonly used strategies and lawsuit tricks to watch out for.

  • Getting you to make a recorded statement that undermines your claim for compensation. This is often done under the pretense of helping claimants get a quick settlement paycheck. There is no law that says you must provide a recorded statement, so if a claims adjustor asks for one, it’s best to decline and speak to your attorney instead.
  • Encouraging claimants to delay their medical care or treatment, then arguing that the victim’s injuries were not related to the accident but were due to a pre-existing condition.
  • Offering a quick but low settlement that does not adequately reflect the true value of your injuries and financial losses, which may take weeks or even months to be realized. A good attorney can ensure you get all the money damages you are entitled to and can maximize the value of your claim.
  • Altering evidence or providing misinformation to the courts. Vital trucking logs are frequently “lost,” and other documents that might indicate negligence go missing. Your attorney’s private investigators can take proactive steps to prevent this from happening.
  • Delaying your case by requesting more time to gather evidence, documents or records. Any excuse to push your mediation or trial date back further and delay your day in court. This tactic can be especially frustrating as expenses pile up, but a good lawyer will stay on top of your case, making sure that justice prevails.

Ellis Law attorneys on your side

When going up against trucking companies, you need a seasoned advocate in your corner who knows how to navigate the often deceitful tactics used to deny or delay claims. Recorded statements can haunt you later, and always refrain from signing anything until your attorney has reviewed it.

Ellis Injury Law is one of the leading truck accident law firms in California, and has procured more than re than $350 million on behalf of clients. Schedule a free, no-obligation case review by calling 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Resources:

  1. Disabled World.com, Tricks Insurance Companies Use Against Car Accident Victims https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/accidents/tricks.php
  2. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Performance (Core Outcome) Measures California https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest
  3. FMCA, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015

The Dangers of Falling Truck Debris

Truck and highwayRoughly 50,568 crashes happened annually as a result of debris falling from another vehicle into a roadway in the United States from 2011 to 2014, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Those debris-caused accidents were responsible for 125 deaths and more than 9,800 injuries every year.

Debris-related accidents four times more likely on interstate highways

While the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety does not break out the incidents of debris falling from trucks versus debris falling from other vehicles, we at the Ellis Law Firm want to warn southern Californians that, because of the high volumes of cargo being carried on large trucks, debris falling from trucks is both more dangerous and likely more prevalent than those from any other type of vehicle.

The AAA study showed, moreover, that debris-caused accidents were four times more likely to happen on interstate highways than on other types of roads. Given the prevalence of interstate highways in the Los Angeles region, the danger to southern Californians increases.

While the state of California spends approximately $52 million every year to make sure there is not debris on the roadways, many factors combine to make the battle against debris a losing one.

Improper Loading, Tire Condition a Factor

Trucks carry multiple loads of cargo through southern California every day. If the load is improperly loaded and not secured sufficiently, cargo can fall off. Even pieces of packing material or straps used to secure the products can fly from the vehicle.

If it does, it falls onto the roadway. If cars strike the objects, the effect can be a severe vehicle crash.

The AAA points out, though, that while many accidents are caused by a vehicle striking debris, many others stem from motorist’s attempts to avoid debris. They may brake or swerve to avoid flying, falling, or mid-lane debris. As a result, their vehicles may hit other vehicles, barriers, road dividers, or other non-debris-related objects.

Trucks also have large tires. If their tires are improperly maintained or the load is too heavy for the tires, the tires can blow out or lose tread significantly. The result? Tire debris on California’s roadways. Tire debris can be just as dangerous as falling objects and packing material.

Determining negligence in a debris accident

Legal cases involving truck debris accidents are complicated. Trucks can be loaded and maintained by the companies that own them, the drivers, or numerous contractors and subcontractors. In a personal injury case, parties must be determined to have known or to have had ample opportunity to know that a truck was not safe, and have failed to rectify the situation.

As a result, cases involving truck debris must be investigated by seasoned personnel who know the ins and outs of the law.

Ellis Law Firm attorneys have decades of experience investigating and litigating collisions and accidents involving truck debris. While the law and possible causes are complex, we fight for your rights. Please call today for a complimentary consultation about your case with experienced Los Angeles truck accident lawyers.

We can be reached at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “falling truck debris” resources:

  1. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Road Debris, United States, 2011-2014.” https://www.aaafoundation.org/prevalence-motor-vehicle-crashes-involving-road-debris-united-states-2011-2014
  2. “CHP, Caltrans Warn Drivers of Danger of the Dangers of Road Debris.” CBS Los Angeles. July 18, 2013. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/07/18/chp-caltrans-warn-drivers-of-the-dangers-of-road-debris/
  3. “Driver Killed Instantly in Freak Accident on California Freeway.” CBS News. May 18, 2017. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/freak-accident-california-freeway-driver-killed-flying-tire-newhall/

Squeeze Play Accidents: When Truck Drivers Put You at Risk

truck desertSemi-trucks, 18 wheelers and tractor trailers require special maneuvering on the highway because of their extreme size and length, with some big rigs measuring more than 60 feet long. Negotiating turns is a particularly tricky task for truck drivers who must give their vehicle sufficient space to avoid a rollover.

What is a “squeeze play” accident?

When a big rig begins to make a right turn, the driver has to swing the cab slightly to the left in order to allow sufficient room for the trailer to clear the turn. Unfortunately, passenger vehicle drivers may be unaware of this tactic, especially when the truck driver fails to signal his impending move. Motorists may think that the semi is making a simple lane change, and then attempt to pass the truck on the right, finding themselves caught in a perilous situation, known as a “squeeze play.”

While the passenger vehicle is attempting to pass the 18 wheeler, the trailer abruptly swings sharply back to the right, squeezing or sandwiching the car against the guardrail, wall or other type of roadway barrier. Given the immense size and weight of commercial trucks, squeeze play accidents frequently result in traumatic injury, property damage and –  sometimes- loss of life.

In far too many cases, truck drivers do not take their surroundings into consideration, or fail to exercise caution when attempting to make a safe right hand turn.  When negligence is to blame, victims of squeeze play accidents are entitled to make a claim for monetary compensation. Potential defendants include at-fault drivers and/or the trucking company that employs them.

Truck accidents resulting in serious injuries and death

Some of the most catastrophic traffic accidents in California involve tractor trailers. Semis weigh upwards of 60,000 pounds, and the crushing force of an 18-wheeler can demolish a car, causing severe and life-threatening injuries.  Vehicle drivers, their occupants and pedestrians may suffer broken bones, spinal cord damage, lacerations, severed limbs, third degree burns, traumatic brain injury and other types of incapacitating harm.

In the wake of such a tragedy, it’s wise to speak with a skilled truck accident lawyer to explore your options for legal recourse. A personal injury lawsuit will attempt to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, including hospital and medical bills, lost income, ongoing treatments, pain and emotional suffering, in addition to compensation for a diminished quality of life.

A qualified attorney can demonstrate if a truck driver did not exercise due caution, or acted negligently when making a right hand turn, putting other motorists at risk.

Tips for avoiding a squeeze play accident

Whether you’re traveling on California’s interstate freeways or rural roads, it’s important to follow some basic tips when driving around big rigs:

  • Keep at least 4-5 car lengths between your vehicle and a tractor trailer
  • Avoid driving in a trucker’s blind spots (on both sides)
  • Anticipate which direction a truck will turn, knowing truckers will veer left before turning right
  • Never pass a tractor trailer on the right side

Commercial truck accident attorneys in California

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Ellis Injury Law works with the industry’s leading experts to build compelling evidence in all personal injury claims involving semis and commercial vehicles. Put our experience, dedication, and resources to work for you.

Schedule a no-obligation with our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers today by calling 1-800-INJURED.

Additional “Squeeze Play Truck Accidents” Resources:

  1. Edmunds.com, How to Share the Road with Truckers https://www.edmunds.com/driving-tips/how-to-share-the-road-with-truckers.html?articleid=43811
  2. OverdriveOnline.com, Trucker gets squeezed into crash in downtown delivery: Preventable or not? http://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-gets-squeezed-into-crash-in-downtown-delivery-preventable-or-not/

Why Big Rigs Crash

causes of truck accidentsWhen big rigs — tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, or 18-wheelers — crash, you often hear about it on the news. That was the case in late April 2017, when a fiery big rig accident closed all lanes of Interstate 5 in Los Angeles. Why? Because the size of big rigs makes any accident much more serious. It is much more likely to cause injuries and fatalities. It is much more likely to cause major damage to highways and property.

In addition, debris caused by a big rig crash can harm motorists and bystanders on southern California highways. Many big rig crashes cause fires, as the truck fuel ignites.

They are also complicated crashes, with more possible causes than fender-benders between cars. Here are the top reasons big rigs crash.

Truck driver error and fatigue

Driver error and driver fatigue can’t be separated in many big rig accidents. Drivers of big rigs can legally work up to 14 hours. Many are required by their companies to transport themselves to the place where they pick up their truck. As a result, they may have been awake much longer than their shift’s duration, perhaps more than 24 hours at a stretch.

Lack of sleep impairs any driver’s response time and alertness to traffic cues. It can lead to accidents.

Underinflated tires

Big rigs are complex vehicles. Safety measures like proper tire inflation matter on all vehicles, of course. But they can be major problems on big rigs, because the weight of the loads large trucks carry.

When tires are underinflated, too much surface area hits the road. That heightens the friction the tires receive. With more friction, they overheat. They can blow out as a result. A blow out can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. The truck can cross lanes or even overturn if it has not been loaded correctly. In addition, blow outs cause flying debris, which can cause injury or death.

Underinflated tires may be caused by poor maintenance. Big rig tires need to be checked regularly. However, maintenance responsibilities for big rigs are often assigned to contractors or subcontractors. Lack of communication and follow-up may cause these tasks to be overlooked.

Improper loading

Big rigs carry a lot of cargo. It is imperative that the cargo be loaded properly. The material has to be well-balanced in the truck. It has to be secured as well. If it’s not loaded properly, it may either cause the entire truck to become unbalanced or shift while it’s being transported. The truck may become difficult to maneuver or completely unmanageable as a result of improper loading.

If a truck has several stops to make, the crew must unload the cargo for the specific place and reload the remaining cargo properly again. With proper loading, this should be kept to a minimum. Each stop increases the potential for accidents.

Like maintenance, loading is often done by contractors or subcontractors.

Experienced big rig crash attorneys

The causes of big rig crashes are complex and often spread between drivers, companies, their contractors, and their subcontractors. Ascertaining legal responsibility for a crash is often difficult and complex.

Attorneys at the Ellis Law Firm have two decades of experience in big rig crashes. We know the causes and we know the complexity. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a big rig crash in southern California, we can help.

Please call today for a free appointment to discuss your case with a California truck accident lawyer. We can be reached at 1-800-INJURED.

More on why trucks crash:

  1. Abramson, Howard. “The Trucks Are Killing Us.” New York Times. August 21, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/opinion/the-trucks-are-killing-us.html?_r=2
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015
  3. Woods, Wes. “1 Dead, 10 Injured in Fiery Big Rig Crash on 5 Freeway That Closes All Lanes.” Los Angeles Daily News, April 25, 2017. http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20170425/1-dead-10-injured-in-fiery-big-rig-crash-on-5-freeway-that-closes-all-lanes