How to Protect Yourself from Semi-Truck Accidents

Posted in Truck Accidents,UM/ UIM Insurance Coverage on May 13, 2016

Oregon Semi-Truck crashIs it my imagination or are Oregonians experiencing more big-rig and semi-truck accidents, breakdowns, and fatalities than in previous years?

Unfortunately, the rise in semi-truck accidents on Oregon roads is not just a hunch.  The latest national statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate the number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 21 percent, and property damage only crashes increased by 31 percent[1]. The latest Oregon truck accident statistics indicate there has been a 6.4% increase in the number of Oregon truck crashes, with a corresponding 12% increase in the number of people injured or killed in these crashes[2].

Oregon semi-truck accidents have increased by 6.4%, causing a 12% increase in personal injuries.

As the trucking industry struggles to cope with the ever-increasing demand, carriers and truck drivers are stretching the limits of their resources. Trucking companies are struggling to keep their drivers in an industry that has more than 90% annual turnover, while utilizing 80-hour work weeks. This leads to driver fatigue and reduced equipment maintenance – a formula for increased accidents.

Oregon Truck Accident Statistics

The government has tried to legislate rules to reduce these key problems by requiring drivers to take a 30-minute break in the first eight hours of driving, cutting the maximum workweek to 70 hours from 82 hours, and restarting the 70-hour limit after a 34-hour break, once a week. However, I am not quite sure how these good intentions eliminate fatigue when drivers are still on the road 14 hours every day, with only a weekend of rest. I wonder how the airline industry would feel about their pilots flying 14-hour days? Would they say OK as long as the number of crash injuries doesn’t exceed 85,424 each year (the same as crashes involving large trucks[3])?

Proof that these problems are taking their toll on the trucking industry comes from the latest national statistics on the number of drivers and trucks taken out-of-service (OOS) for violations such as, too many traffic violations or accidents, drunk driving, substance abuse, lack of maintenance, unsafe loading, mechanical operating condition, leaking cargo, or safety violations. Inspections showed that 4.9% of truck drivers and 20.9% of large trucks were taken out-of-service for safety or operating violations[4]. These percentages do not adequately communicate the problem when you realize that 4.9% equates to 171,500 drivers, and 20.9% equates to 3,239,500 commercial trucks! 

What can you do to protect your family from semi-truck accidents?

ONE – Drive defensively. Be aware that truck drivers may not be able to see you if you drive in their blind spot. Cutting in front of a truck significantly decreases the truck’s stopping distance which is much greater than a car’s stopping distance. In fact, traveling at 55-65 mph, a truck requires 200 more feet to stop than a car. Do not pass a truck on the right. Truck drivers frequently swing wide left in order to make a right-hand turn. Car drivers often mistake this action as an opportunity to pull alongside the truck and make a turn right.

TWO – Understand the limitations and performance characteristics of semi-trucks are drastically different than a car. First, a semi-trailer truck can be 70-80 feet in length and weigh 80,000 lbs. That makes braking, turning, and maintaining lane position a challenge for any driver. Semi-trucks require 40% more braking distance than cars and have a turning radius of more than 55 feet. Bottom-line: give semi-trailer trucks a wide berth.

THREE – Maintain adequate insurance. Be sure that you have adequate insurance to cover you and your family in the event of a major Oregon truck accident. Truck carriers are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, but that amount is not adequate coverage for a serious accident involving your family. The better approach is to increase your Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage and take advantage of Oregon’s 2016 insurance law that makes these coverages stackable. Typical quotes for $500K UM/UIM insurance ranged from $40 to $95 per year. You can also add $1,000,000 excess UM/UIM coverage to an umbrella policy for an additional $50-$175 per year. Read more about Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance (UM/UIM) Coverage, by visiting our Mayor Law Blog.

FOUR – If you are involved in Oregon semi-truck accidents, hire an effective, knowledgeable semi-truck accidents lawyer. An effective semi-truck accidents attorney will know how to utilize the hundreds of pages of safety regulations to hold drivers and trucking companies accountable for their violations and non-compliance, especially if they were a contributing factor in causing your accident. For example:

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared truck driver Jason L. Flynn to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. According to police officers, Mr. Flynn made an illegal turn that resulted in a crash with a passenger vehicle; possessed open beer cans; failed a field sobriety test; possessed a bag of heroin; and was in violation of multiple federal regulations.
  • FMCSA Declares California Truck Driver to be an Imminent Hazard to Public Safety.
  • Here is an example of a trucking company deemed an imminent hazard to public safety and ordered to cease operations. Typical violations cited include: operating with a suspended registration, operating vehicles with an “unsatisfactory rating”, defective brakes, inoperable headlights, exhaust leaks, and submitting false reports, to mention a few violations.

A Rise In Semi-Truck Accidents

Oregon Semi-Truck AccidentsIn spite of regulatory efforts to catch and shut down trucking companies that routinely violate safety rules, it is easy for trucking companies to re-register, open under new names, and receive a clean operating record. The practice is referred to as “reincarnating.” Thousands of trucking companies have done this. If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident, you need an Oregon trucking accident lawyer who is willing to dig into the background and operating practices of the trucking company and their drivers.

Portland Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer

Personal_Injury_Attorney_Travis_MayorAs a Portland truck accident lawyer, my sole focus is to represent victims and their families who have been wrongfully injured as a result of another’s careless or intentional conduct. I hope this website is a place to learn more about our law firm, as well as, an educational resource for Oregonians who have been victims of truck accidents.  It is not intended to be legal advice, as every case is unique and should be accurately evaluated.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of another person’s conduct, and you are looking for a skilled attorney to lead you through the insurance and regulatory roadblocks, please call today for a free and confidential case evaluation. Local (503) 610-0005, Toll-free 1 (800) 949-1481 or email  travis@mayorlaw.com.


[1] Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

[2] Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

[3] Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

[4] Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/motor-carrier-safety-progress-report-september-30-2015.

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