Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Vehicles vs. Tractor-trailers

Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles

November 03 2002 - Vehicles vs. Tractor-trailers

Tractor-trailer truck accidents in Nevada are on the rise, state records show, with an increase of 55 percent statewide since 1994, and 74 percent in Washoe County. Last year, Nevada averaged 275 truck accidents a month, or about nine per day; while Washoe County averaged about 44 truck accidents a month, or more than one a day, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety.

Officials say it’s time car drivers learned the rules for sharing the road safely with trucks, but whether cars or trucks are chiefly to blame for the escalation in accidents is unclear. According to some local car drivers, truckers have started compromising safety in the interest of speed. “Without question, in my opinion, truck drivers are much more aggressive than they used to be,” said Karl Oppenheim, 40, as he fueled his pickup at a Reno Arco station recently. “They are driving faster than they used to. And they are driving more in the left-hand, fast lane, almost to an arrogant level.”

But long-haul truck drivers disagree.“Car drivers are getting worse and worse all the time, especially young people,” said Jim Glenn, 50, a truck driver based out of Minnesota. “I have people doing stupid things around me constantly.“A study by the Automobile Association of America this year found cars overwhelmingly are responsible for the most serious truck-car accidents nationwide, causing 75 percent of fatal crashes.But according to the Nevada Department of Transportation, truckers caused more than half the local truck accidents in 2001- 58 percent of truck accidents in the state and 62 percent in Washoe County.

Nevada Highway Patrol Lt. James Peterson said blame for truck accidents can’t be easily assigned. Though he insisted most people don’t know how to drive around trucks, he also said sheer population growth has been a factor, adding more vehicles to the roads. Tammy Pacheco of the Office of Traffic Safety agreed. “There’s more people, there’s more traffic, there’s more of everything,” Pacheco said.

Indeed, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, in the year 2001 the number of registered vehicles increased by 4.5 percent in Nevada and 4.1 percent in Washoe County.Truck accidents in 2001 increased by almost 3 percent statewide and by about 3.5 percent in Washoe County, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety. Whatever the cause of the rise in truck accidents, the phenomenon takes on new currency with the prospect of nuclear waste being shipped through northern Nevada to Yucca Mountain.“If in fact we have rising rates of accidents in the state, then that gives us greater cause for concern later on,” said Joel Strolin, spokesman for the Nevada Agency For Nuclear Projects. “Any kind of increase in the accidents rate will up the risk associated with spent fuel and high-level waste transportation.” In other words, the time has never been better to learn the rules of sharing the road with trucks.

According to veteran truck driver Ina Daly, car drivers need to remember two simple facts: Trucks cannot see you in their blind spots, and they need plenty of space because they can’t make sudden stops. “Trucks going 60 mph take over the length of a football field to stop,” said Daly “The most dangerous thing you can do is jump in front of us and hit the brakes.” “Don’t pull over in front of a truck unless you can see both the truck’s headlights in your rear view mirror,” Daly advised.Drivers should also pay as much attention to the truck driver’s mirrors as they do to their own, Daly added, since they indicate where the truck’s blind spots are. “If you look up into the truck’s mirrors, and you can’t see the truck driver’s face, then you’re in the blind spot,” said Daly, “if you’re in the rear and you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, then you’re following too close.” If a slow-moving truck is a problem, passing can be accomplished safely by waiting until you have adequate space, and then driving quickly through the truck’s blind spot. But be careful of passing on the right side, Daly said, since a truck’s biggest blind spot- large enough to hide a 70-foot-long double trailer truck- is on the right.

Other truckers said our local area poses special challenges for truckers and car drivers alike. Stan Ignatov, a truck driver based in Florida, warned that Interstate 80 is particularly hazardous at high speeds. “I-80 has so many curves; you don’t have to go the speed limit,” Ignatov said. “Sometimes you have to go under the speed limit to drive those curves safely,” he said.The high number of tourists is a bigger problem, other truckers said. “They’re in too big of a hurry,” said Pennsylvania-based truck driver, Brian Derock. “Especially if they’re from out of state on their way here. They’re tired and they’re in too big a hurry to get to their hotel.”

Older truck models pose a safety hazard of their own. Though trucks built today are required to include extra features to help shrink blind spots and make speedier stops, companies are not required to retrofit their aging fleets, and the expense of doing so is enough disincentive to keep older, more dangerous trucks on the road.

In all large truck cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a large truck accident, call the Truck Accident Lawyers Group, Inc. now at (877) 736-4222 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.