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How Safe Are Pennsylvania Truck Drivers?

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Pennsylvania has approximately 40,500 miles of state roads, and several major roads and freeways run through the state, including historic U.S. Route 1. The state’s transportation agency, PennDOT, has a lot of work to do to maintain all that road, especially with the sheer volume of traffic that uses it each year. Potentially the most hazardous traffic comes from trucks, hauling heavy loads over long distances. Pennsylvania drivers need to be extra cautious when traveling near a big rig. Furthermore, if you have been injured, it may be in your best interests to contact an injury attorney in Philadelphia.

Truck Accident Statistics

Accidents involving heavy trucks accounted for approximately 5% of all accidents on Pennsylvania roads according to the most recently available data set. However, they accounted for approximately 12% of all fatal accidents. Most truck accidents occurred on interstates and other state-maintained roads, which is perhaps understandable, given that they traditionally have the highest speed limits. Another noted trend, however, is that most accidents involving a heavy truck stemmed from issues with the tires or wheels, according to the data. This is notable simply because passenger cars will not be prone to the same types of malfunctions.

The most important statistic, however, is the number of occupant fatalities. In 2010 (the year of the most recent data), only 2% of deaths in heavy truck crashes were truck occupants. The rest were almost all passengers and occupants of cars, with a small percentage being pedestrians. Heavy trucks simply have the weight advantage – if you are in an accident with a big rig, even if the driver only makes a small mistake, it can have devastating consequences.

Liability in Truck Accidents

In addition to heavy trucks being arguably more dangerous in accident situations than smaller vehicles, there are some unique factors related to liability and apportionment of fault that may affect your decision to bring suit (or the person against whom you bring suit) if you are injured in a big rig wreck.

Liability will generally fall upon the truck driver (if you are not found at fault), but the trucking company will likely cover any award under a theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability, which makes the company responsible for the torts of its employees (if committed within the scope of employment). However, unlike most accidents involving only private cars, there may be even more actors that could be deemed liable – for example, if a truck was recently serviced, and a part was improperly replaced, the mechanic who performed the service could be held liable if that part played a role in the accident.

Sometimes the trucking company will itself be found liable. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates certain aspects of truckers’ employment, such as how many hours may be driven continuously or how often a truck must be serviced, it is not uncommon for trucking companies to ignore these directives in the name of profit. If a trucker is not well rested, or if they have not had their vehicle serviced often enough, their chance of causing an accident is markedly higher.

Contact A Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer

Big rig accidents can be absolutely devastating, and if you experience one, you need all the assistance you can get to obtain the compensation you need to get you back on your feet. The experienced Philadelphia truck accident lawyers at The Pearce Law Firm know the ins and outs of mounting a truck accident lawsuit, and are happy to put their knowledge to work for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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