Are Truck Drivers Becoming More Aggressive?
Posted on: January 27, 2022
The trucking industry is no different than any other business that has been facing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortages of qualified employees coupled with increased numbers of consumers placing orders and supply shortages has caused incredible stress for companies and their drivers. This in turn frequently develops into aggressive behaviors that can be dangerous or deadly for people on the roads. Anyone who shares the roads with truckers has likely noticed an increase in aggressive driving, and the increased threats to their safety. Unfortunately, this behavior can increase the risk of a truck accident.
How Badly Has the Trucking Industry Been Impacted by the Pandemic?
As the pandemic began to impact the economy in negative ways, many older employees, including truck drivers, decided to retire and stay at home where they felt more protected and did not have to deal with the stress. Many of the truckers who stayed on were able to leverage their positions to get routes that were closer to their homes. This way, they were able to get back home every day to their families, but labor shortages began to grow. E-commerce also experienced a sharp uptick during this time, and this demand for home deliveries was unprecedented; this has not changed. Even with increases in pay, consumers were not getting their deliveries on time. Trucking companies have been unable to find enough suitable candidates, so it is quite possible that drivers without enough experience are being routinely hired.
Another factor that led to less available qualified truckers was the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that was initiated in January 2020. This mandatory database tracks professional truck driver compliance issues, and approximately 30,000 were disqualified after their records were shared. These drivers are now unable to find work, further complicating the shortage of drivers.
How Do Aggressive Truckers Drive?
It is not easy to miss the red flags of an aggressive trucker. Behaviors to watch out for include cutting off other drivers, weaving in and out of lanes, passing illegally, excessive speeding, repeated braking and accelerating, and tailgating. In some of the worst-case scenarios, these drivers may speed through redlights, fail to yield, or fail to slow down during poor weather conditions.
These examples are frightening enough, but things get taken to another level when the aggressive driving turns into road rage. These can start out with a lot of horn honking and obscene gestures and words directed toward other drivers. If it becomes a physical altercation, lives could be at stake. A road rage-consumed truck driver could end up trying to force another vehicle out of their lane or off the road; they might also try to hit the other car or follow the driver to their destination.
It goes without saying that the best thing to do in any of these situations is to stay as far away from the truck as possible. This means slowly changing to another lane, or even pulling into the shoulder or off an exit for safety. Although it is hard to remain calm and distance yourself from the aggression, remember that the truck is probably much larger than whatever you are driving in, and engaging with the driver’s anger and aggression can only make things worse.
When it is safe to do so, contact the authorities and provide them with as much information about the trucker as you can. If you have a passenger with you, they may be able to snap a few photos of what is going on with the driver. Try to note the make, model, and color of the truck along with distinguishing characteristics such as a company name or logo. It is also good to write down the license plate number, location of the truck, and the direction in which it is going.
Why Are Large Trucks So Dangerous?
Size and weight matter when it comes to large trucks, and even if the driver is not aggressive and drives safely, these trucks are not as easy to maneuver as other vehicles. This means that they have large blind spots all the way around, have to make extremely wide turns, and need increased stopping distances. If you are driving close to one, look at their rearview mirror; if you do not see your vehicle in it, that means that the driver cannot see you. Always maintain safe following distances near large trucks and pass with care. Since they are larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, accidents involving them cause much more damage to smaller cars and trucks and worse personal injury to those drivers and passengers.
Truck drivers are under tremendous pressure to pick up and deliver their goods on time and often drive more hours than permissible by law. Since they are also only paid for the hours that they are working, many are fatigued when behind the wheel. This is a main cause of truck driver distraction, but there are other reasons. Like most drivers, truckers are prone to using handheld electronic devices when driving, which is extremely risky when piloting a big rig. Truck drivers are also likely to eat while driving, since this can save them time during their shifts. Besides that, it is difficult to remain focused 100 percent of the time on long-haul drives; it is also not uncommon for truckers to fall asleep at the wheel.
What Should I Do if I Was in a Truck Accident?
If you have sustained injuries caused by an accident involving a truck, you may need to prove that the trucker’s aggressive driving constituted negligence. To do this, you must establish that:
- At the time of the accident, the truck driver owed you a duty of care and caution. This is because every driver owes a duty to one another to drive safely while on the road.
- The truck driver committed an act or an omission that disregarded his or her duty to drive safely. This act could be speeding, ignoring a red light, or another serious violation.
- That driver’s breach of duty directly caused the accident. This means that there were no other simultaneously occurring events that could have led to the crash, such as icy roads or defective brakes.
- The accident caused measurable damage to the plaintiff’s physical or mental health, property, or finances.
Establishing the above points involves gathering evidence for your case. A police report can help but is not the only resource that you need. If you require medical care for your injuries, it is important to keep accurate records of anything for which you had to pay; this includes diagnoses, testing, procedures, office visits, follow-up care, rehabilitative treatment, and medications.
The photos mentioned earlier can also be helpful, and it is also wise to take pictures of any skid marks, weather conditions, and anything else from the accident scene. If it was not done at the time of the collision, a qualified car accident lawyer can arrange to have someone return to the scene for this. Other ways of proving negligent driving include having witnesses provide testimony and video footage if there were cameras at the scene. Most of the large trucks built in the past decade have electronic control modules (ECMs), which record data pertaining to the truck’s operations. These modules can record truck speeds, among other data. If negligence can be established, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and damages. This can also include non-quantifiable ones such as mental anguish and pain and suffering.
Monmouth County Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Are Dedicated to Helping Clients in Serious Truck Accidents
A serious truck accident can change lives forever, and the long-term implications can be overwhelming and devastating. If you were involved in a truck accident and need legal help, do not hesitate to contact the caring, knowledgeable Monmouth County truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law. Our legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to get you the compensation for which you are entitled. For a free consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or complete our online form. We are located in Freehold, New Jersey, and help clients throughout Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn, New York, and New York City.