The most recent traffic safety study completed by the New Mexico Department of Transportation in 2009, showed the following contributing factors of crashes involving heavy trucks in New Mexico:
- Driver inattention
- Excessive speed
- Improper turning
- Mechanical defects
- Failure to yield
- Following too closely
- Driving left of center
- Improper overtaking
- Disregarding traffic signals
- Alcohol usage
Types of Truck Accidents Common in New Mexico
Truck accidents can be caused by driver negligence, truck malfunction, negligent maintenance of the truck or a combination of these issues. Again, because of their sheer size, there are many different types of accidents that can result, including:
1. Jackknife Accidents
Jackknifing is a term used to describe what happens when the back end or trailer portion of a truck swings around and creates a fold or an angle between the trailer and the front of the truck resulting in the cab of the truck facing in one direction and the trailer facing in a different direction. When this happens, the swinging trailer can easily catch nearby cars into its wake and cause them to be smashed between the cab and trailer.
2. Underride Accidents
Trucks are much larger than most other vehicles on the roadway. Underride accidents occur when a vehicle is unable to slow down or avoid a truck moving into its path and therefore ends up pinned underneath the truck trailer. Fortunately, underride accidents are not common, but when they do happen, they can be fatal.
3. Unsecured Cargo Accidents
A fully loaded semi-truck can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. If the cargo is not loaded and secured properly, there are two types of accidents that commonly result. First, if the cargo is unsecured, it can fall into the roadway. This can be very dangerous if the truck is carrying hazardous material. Another common accident caused by improperly loaded cargo is overturning. When a truck is attempting to make a turn, it may be thrown off balance by improperly loaded cargo in its trailer.
4. Truck Driver Negligence
Truck drivers spend much of their life on the roadway. Truckers are often under pressure to make deadlines and drive for hours on end. There are many factors that can lead to driver error and negligence. Some of the most common circumstances include aggressive driving, drug or alcohol abuse, inexperience, criminal behavior, speeding, texting while driving, unsafe lane movements, and driver drowsiness. Any of these factors combined with driving an 80,000 pound vehicle can be deadly.
5. Failure to Maintain the Truck
Trucks are driven thousands of miles a week and because of this, it is critical that they are regularly examined and maintained by a trained mechanic. Common problems that can result in serious accidents include brake failure, work tires, defective equipment, improper reflectors and worn out locks and load straps.
6. Truck Employer Negligence
Employers of truck drivers have a legal obligation to ensure that their driver’s are qualified. This means that they have a duty to perform random drug testing, conduct background checks, and take measures to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and licensed. Federal and state regulations require that companies annually review each trucker’s driving record which includes checking for any traffic violations.
For more information about what to do after a truck accident, download our free book “10 Critical Questions You Need Answered Before You Sign Anything After a Truck Accident”