Motor vehicles are both a boon to society and a massive source of risk and loss. They allow people to live more than a mile or two from the place they work. They provide freedom to engage in all kinds of activities, from socialization to travel. However, they can also cause substantial property damage or death in the event of a crash.
Similarly, commercial vehicles can cause harm while helping maintain the economy. While they allow for faster transportation and allow for the quick and efficient movement of raw goods, food and products around the country, they pose a risk to everyone else on the road.
The sad truth is that commercial vehicles have human drivers who are as prone to mistakes, negligence and sudden medical events as any other driver. According to data collected and analyzed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, people in smaller vehicles almost always pay the price for issues in a commercial vehicle.
In roughly 97 percent of fatal crashes in 2016 between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, the people in the passenger vehicle are the ones who die. There are many reasons for this discrepancy. One of them is that the size difference between the two vehicles makes it unlikely for a passenger vehicle to inflict serious damage on a commercial vehicle. The reverse is also true. Commercial trucks are so massive that what could be a minor collision with a similarly-sized vehicle becomes a tragedy instead.
In order to reduce the potential for serious injuries and deaths resulting from truck collisions, those who wish to operate commercial vehicles must obtain special licensing. To do that, they attend special courses and must pass a test as well.
They are also subject to stricter controls than those who operate passenger vehicles on the roads. Commercial drivers have limits on how long they can drive on any given day and throughout the week. They also have stricter restrictions on alcohol consumption before driving. Most drivers face criminal charges if they operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. For commercial drivers, the legal limit of their BAC is only 0.04 percent.
When a commercial driver chooses to work while exhausted, intoxicated or distracted, he or she puts everyone else on the road at risk. Those who have suffered a collision with a commercial vehicle could end up with permanent debilitating injuries, like spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injuries. They could also lose a loved one as the result of a collision.
When that happens, it may be in the best interests of the victim to pursue compensation via a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Lost wages, medical bills and even funeral costs are a financial burden that those wronged by another driver should not have to carry alone.