One American economy depends in good part on the efficient movement of goods and materials. Trucks have become one of the primary means of getting consumer goods, food and raw materials to stores and factories. Bigger and better highways have led to double and triple-rig trucks competing with passenger vehicles for a share of the roads. As a result, accidents caused by truck driver error have become a major concern for government officials on both the state and federal levels.
State and Federal Regulation of Trucks
Truck drivers must possess commercial driver’s licenses and are subject to strict federal and state regulations. There are limits on the number of hours they can drive each day. Truckers must keep accurate logbooks to document the performance of mandatory safety inspections and limits on the number of hours they are on the road each day. These and other trucker-only rules are in addition to the traffic laws all motorists must obey.
Illinois Trucking Laws and Common Trucker Errors
Illinois has joined with other states in imposing a duty to use a reasonable degree of care when driving upon every licensed motorist. Drivers must observe other vehicles and pedestrians, obey traffic laws and maintain control of their vehicles at all times. Truck drivers are subject to these same rules.
State and federal rules and regulations pertaining to truck drivers are intended to prevent or reduce accidents, including those caused by truck driver error. Accidents involving trucks frequently involve factors such as:
- Fatigued truckers falling asleep at the wheel or being unable to react quickly to emergencies.
- Unsecured cargo falling from the truck.
- Failing to inspect for brake, tire and other equipment problems.
- Failing to use due care and caution driving in bad weather.
- Driving trucks that exceed weight limit laws.
- Failing to obey posted speed limits.
- Driving while the trucker is distracted and not paying attention to the road.
Illinois has comparative negligence laws to reinforce the responsibility it places on all drivers whether they are driving cars or trucks. Comparative negligence allows a jury or judge to take into consideration the conduct of the injured party that contributed to the accident occurring or to the injuries the person suffered.
For example, a jury may find that a truck hit a car causing injury to its driver because the truck’s brakes failed due to improper maintenance. If the evidence proves that the car was making an illegal turn that brought it into the path of the truck, the jury might find the injured person to be partially responsible for the accident. In that case, the jury can reduce the award of damages by the percentage of negligence they attribute to the injured person.
States have increased the number of truck inspection checkpoints in an effort to force truck drivers to comply with laws aimed at decreasing accidents caused by truck driver error. State or local inspectors check the truck’s weight using portable scales, inspect brakes and other mechanical and safety equipment, and review the driver’s logbook to verify that the trucker is not exceeding the maximum number of hours on the road each day.