The holiday season can be an exciting time of year, full of gift-giving and visiting with family and friends. But it also means that drivers should be more cautious on the roads, especially when it comes to large trucks.
Online shopping is the norm for many of us, so it’s no surprise that holiday months bring more delivery trucks to the highways. So much so that Amazon, UPS, and other major carriers are hiring seasonal truck drivers with higher pay to assist with the holiday rush. However, with less experienced truck drivers on the roads combined with dangerous winter weather, more passengers on the roads, and increased pressure on truckers to deliver freight on time – it could be the perfect recipe for a spike in large truck accidents.
Approximately 5,000 people die nationwide in large truck crashes each year. In 2022, there were 2,981 large truck crashes in Virginia, with 60 fatal crashes and 844 injury crashes. There are precautions you can take to keep yourself and your family safe on the road traveling around trucks over the holidays, but sometimes accidents are inevitable. An experienced Virginia truck accident attorney can guide you through the process if you are injured in an accident due to a truck driver’s error or a trucking company’s negligence.
Holiday Demand Means More Trucks on the Road
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities during holiday periods than during non-holiday periods due to increased travel time, more alcohol use, and excessive driving speed. Christmas Day to New Year’s Day sees the most motor vehicle crash fatalities.
Driving around large trucks is especially risky due to their massive size and weight, which can be up to 80,000 pounds and 70-plus feet long. Generally, passenger car occupants are much more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries or be killed than truckers, who are protected by the sheer size of their vehicles.
A 2022 Truckstop survey of 500 U.S. truck drivers found that 84% planned to take additional loads and shifts during the holidays – some to make extra money and others to compensate for the nationwide shortage of experienced truckers. Drivers sometimes cut corners on load inspections and drive too long between rest periods. Driving while sleep-deprived or distracted can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.
What Leads to More Trucking Accidents Over the Holidays?
Driving while impaired increases during the holidays – from truck drivers who are stressed about quotas to holiday revelers who are celebrating with a few drinks at every party. Prescription drugs, marijuana, and other substances besides alcohol also lead to dangerous driving.
In 2021, more than 13,000 motor vehicle crash fatalities in the U.S. involved drunk drivers, a 14 percent increase from 2020. More than 1,000 of those deaths occurred in December.
In Virginia, 27 percent of 2022’s traffic fatalities were related to alcohol. On average, in 2022, one person was killed, 11 people were injured, and 19 alcohol-related crashes occurred every day in Virginia.
Weather is another major factor in trucking accidents during the holiday season. The winter brings snowstorms, low visibility, high winds, and icy roads. Gusty winds can be a particular issue for large trucks, which are top-heavy and more susceptible to flipping, especially when empty. Wet roads can make braking more difficult than it already is; it takes almost the length of two football fields for trucks to stop in perfect conditions.
Some large truck crashes are caused by driver error. Improper lane changes are the most prevalent driver error among Virginia truckers. Other driver errors include tailgating, improper turning, and, of course, speeding.
Keep these important safety tips in mind when driving around large trucks:
- Never tailgate a large truck; they have several large blind spots.
- Keep your speed steady when passing a truck, and never pull in front of it unless you can see the entire truck behind you.
- Give turning trucks plenty of room to maneuver.
All of these errors are made more deadly during the winter months. Truckers should be taking extra care when driving through snow and ice. When they don’t, it can result in tragedy.
How a Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Collisions involving a truck or tractor trailer have many complicating factors that make it imperative that anyone involved in a trucking collision hires an experienced personal injury lawyer. These complicating factors include the parties involved with the truck or tractor trailer. Unlike a collision involving two passenger vehicles, a truck and/or tractor trailer will normally have different individuals and entities that own the truck, drive the truck, employ/hire the driver, and train the driver. All these individuals and entities may be liable for the collision, and it is important that an experienced trucking attorney is involved in the case to be able to determine all relevant parties and claims.
Large trucks also cause more damage to passenger cars, so the potential for severe injury or death is much higher. You may be in the hospital for weeks or months and require long-term medical care and physical or occupational therapy. Getting enough compensation to cover these costs, as well as lost wages, enjoyment of life, and other damages, will require you to hire an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney who understands the unique circumstances of these accidents.
You must get checked out by a medical professional right after the accident, regardless of how you feel. Many injuries can arise well after the crash, and you may be unable to link them to the accident if you wait too long to document them.
Another difference when involved in a Virginia truck accident is insurance. Commercial trucks carry much higher coverage. Despite this, a trucking company may try to offer you a settlement far below what you deserve if you don’t have the assistance of a truck accident attorney.
Whether your injury was caused by a reckless truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, or a combination of these, the Virginia truck accident attorneys at Curcio Law should be your first call after 911. We’ve been representing truck accident victims throughout Virginia for decades. We can take the work off your hands while you focus on healing. Please call or text us at 703-836-3366 or fill out our online form for a free, confidential consultation.
Rakin Hamad joined Curcio Law as an associate in August 2018 after graduating from George Mason Law School. During law school, Rakin demonstrated his dedication to client advocacy and was a member of the trial advocacy association, the pro bono society, and the George Mason Law Review. His approach to the law mirrors the firm’s philosophy of treating each client with commitment, compassion and character. Contact Rakin at firstname.lastname@example.org.