In 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed into law, requiring truck drivers to undergo training which will enable them to possess the skills necessary in operating a truck, and to pass a test prepared by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), before obtaining a commercial vehicle license. This is partly to make sure that truck drivers will always be up to whatever challenging tasks their driving duties will require of them, such as driving for 11 hours with very short rest periods.
There are many other laws which have been passed, of course, all aimed at ensuring that only trained and qualified drivers are allowed to operate trucks and, once behind the wheel, will be kept kept from feeling drowsy and fatigued. And then there are also laws that strictly require trucking firms to conduct regular maintenance checks on their vehicles to make sure that these are always in good operating condition and free from defective parts or manufacturing defects. Thus, besides the licensing requirements enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are also laws that specify the allowed maximum number of hours of service (HOS) or driving hours, federal standards on truck tires and brakes, prohibition on the use of a cell phone while driving, and on the use of a bluetooth headset, among others.
Truck accidents and the threats presented by trucks on the road are common knowledge to hundreds of lawyers and law firms all across the United States. According to the website of Williams Kherkher one major reason trucks are so dangerous is the presence of multiple blind spots (around the truck) known as “no-zones”.
“No zones” are areas or spots around trucks (and buses) where crashes are most likely to occur; some are actually blind spots because smaller vehicles, especially cars, disappear from the view of the truck driver. There are four blind spots identified around trucks: the (left and right) side no-zone; the rear no-zone; and, the front no-zone.
- Front no-zone: cutting in front of a truck immediately after passing it and, likewise, immediately slowing down can result to being rear-ended which, in turn, can lead to an accident and severe injuries.
- Rear no-zone: due to the length and width of a truck, as well as the fact that this does not have rear view mirrors, smaller vehicles that tailgate it are usually never noticed by the driver; the driver of the smaller vehicle will likewise be deprived of a view of the road ahead. Thus, in the event that the truck suddenly stops, the smaller vehicle can very likely run into it.
- Side no-zone: if there is one thing that drivers of smaller vehicles should totally avoid doing, this is driving along either side of trucks or buses as these are their big no-zone areas. A driver obviously does not see you if you, in turn, does not see his/her face in the side-view mirror; likewise, if the truck driver suddenly needs to change lanes or swerve, that can only mean very big trouble . . . for you.
Smaller vehicles that squeeze between (the right side of) trucks and curbs are also inviting disaster. Many smaller vehicles have been crushed beyond recognition due to this fatal mistake either by drivers of smaller vehicles or by truck drivers who fail to first make safety checks before making a right turn.
Iowa car accident attorneys would probably tell you that even cars have blind spots, though these are much smaller compared to trucks and buses. To make all motorists aware of this blind spot or no-zone issue, the concept was introduced in the early 1990s, for the dual aim of teaching drivers to stay out of no-zone areas and calling on truck drivers to pay extra attention to smaller vehicles that may happen to end up in these areas.
Some studies show that majority of road accidents that involve cars and trucks are actually faults of drivers of smaller vehicles – due to their failure to observe the no-zone areas. If this is totally true, then it would not matter whether the truck driver was actually extra careful or not with his/her driving.
Well, there definitely is more that needs to be proven; but while some accidents clearly show who is at fault, there are many more that will require the analysis and probing of a truly skilled lawyer in order to determine who or how much negligent each driver has been.