Speeding in a passenger vehicle is inherently dangerous but, when a commercial truck barrels down the road at an excessive speed, they are creating a unique risk to other drivers, pedestrians, and even property owners.
The Dangers of Speeding Trucks
Speeding trucks are dangerous for several reasons. A commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more when it is fully loaded, which is no match for anything else that it meets on impact. These massive vehicles also take longer to stop than other vehicles, so truck drivers that have lost control could hurt more people before a crash is complete.
When a speeding commercial truck causes an accident, the results can be catastrophic. Drivers, passengers, and anyone else in their path are at risk of severe injury and even death when these tragedies occur. Truck drivers that speed are putting the lives of others at risk through their careless and reckless actions.
How a Speeding Truck Can Cause an Accident
Roughly 1,000 people are killed each year in the U.S. due to the actions of speeding commercial trucks. In 2015 alone, speed was listed as a contributing factor in 7.5 percent of all “large truck crashes”. The “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 22.9 percent of large truck crashes involved excessive speed or traveling too fast for conditions.
Truck drivers speed for a variety of reasons, but it primarily comes down to money. Instead of being paid by the hour, a truck driver is paid by the mile or the load delivery. It is to their benefit to deliver goods as quickly as possible so that they can move on to the next job. This motivation underlies much of the problem. When a commercial truck drives too fast, some of the ways that they can cause an accident include:
- Loss of Control. As with any vehicle, driving too fast can lead to a loss of control. But, with large trucks, this can lead to deadly multi-car accidents.
- Inability to Stop. Trucks need longer to slow down and stop than passenger vehicles. This stopping time increases the more a truck is speeding. Any change in conditions on the road that require immediate slowing or stopping is a hazard when speeding trucks are present.
- Curves. Speeding trucks and unexpected curves on the road don’t mix. Trucks should slow down when approaching curves. If they don’t, they risk a dangerous crash.
- Loads. When a truck is overloaded or improperly loaded, this can contribute to speeding crashes. Loads can shift during transport or cause a truck to be less stable when turning, either of which can lead to jackknife or rollover accidents.
- Weather. Trucks that continue to speed through snow, ice, fog, and rain are exhibiting reckless and negligent behavior. Even when not exceeding the speed limit, a truck driver has a duty to drive at a speed that is appropriate to the current conditions.
Will Speed Limiters Help Reduce Crashes?
Some commercial trucks now roll off the assembly line equipped with speed governors that will limit the vehicle’s speed. The problem with these is twofold. First, speed limiters are not required by law. Second, many trucking companies or drivers are disabling them so that they are useless in preventing accidents.
There has been discussion among safety advocates, insurance companies, and some in the federal government of requiring the use of speed limiters that are set at 68 mph. The rationale is that these limits would save countless lives. Unfortunately, speed limits on highways throughout the U.S. continue to rise, and there is no sign that these restraints will be put in place anytime soon.
Speak with a Qualified Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
It would be ideal if we could change the rules and convince truck drivers to slow down, but this isn’t likely to happen in the foreseeable future. If you or someone you care about has been injured because of a speeding truck, you have rights.
At Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., our Virginia truck accident attorneys advocate for the rights of victims of these tragic crashes. If a truck driver was negligent, you should not have to foot the bill for your losses and can make a claim for damages. Contact our Manassas office now at 703-361-1555 or reach us online to schedule a consultation.