By Matt Lalande in Trucking Accidents on July 28, 2020
There are over 3.5 million truck drivers on the roads in North America, many of which make regular trips across the country and across the border. In fact, statistics from the Nation’s trucking alliance shows that 90 percent of all consumer products and foodstuffs are shipped by semi-truck throughout Canada, and almost two-thirds by trade with the US, which remains Canada’s largest trading partner. Without the trucking industry, the wheels of commerce would no doubt stop stop rolling. Even more shocking is that the average kilometre of main highway in Canada has about 1,100 trucks a day in both directions. In Ontario, that average is higher at 2,300 trucks a day, although Highway 401 has volumes exceeding 10,000 trucks a day in Southern Ontario and 40,000 a day near Toronto.
In mid 2018 the OPP released their statistics for fatal collisions on Ontario roadways it patrolled in 2017 – which indicated that they responded to 68,794 crashes in 2017, 304 of which were fatal. This marked the highest number of road fatalities in five years. 76 of these 304 fatal collisions involved semi-trucks (25%), resulting in 91 deaths. The numbers represented a 10-year high for fatal trucking accidents.
When dealing with trucking accidents in Ontario, it is important to note that there are a variety of factors that contribute to a collision. While some trucking accidents are caused by truck driver error, others are caused by negligence made by other drivers on the road. Many truck driving accidents are caused by drivers of motor vehicles who do not take proper consideration for the large truck with which they are sharing the road. Actions such as trying to cut off a truck driver to get in front of them can seem simple, but are very dangerous. A large truck needs space to stop, and cannot always come to a sudden stop in time to avoid hitting a smaller vehicle in front of it. Due to the sheer size of 80,000 lbtruck, in the event of a trucing accident, the passenger or driver in the other vehicle is almost always the individual who suffers a life-changing injury or a fatality.
Here are some of the most common types of trucking accidents that occur on Canada’s roads, and the dangers they pose for those traveling alongside these vehicles.
Left Turns – when a truck turns left in front of a passenger vehicle, the truck driver must have more than adaquate time to complete his or her turn without the passenger vehicle having to take evasive manouvres and avoid a serious accident. Because of the sheer size of commercial trucks and busy where deliveries are normally made, the truck driver must be extremely careful before making a left turn. Unfortunately, drivers are often in a hurry and attempt to make their left turn when they know the only way the turn can be safely made is if the approaching driver slows down and stops to avoid a collision. This type of situation often leads to terribly devastating results. Normally driver fatigue is not an issue in these types of cases, but instead, the driver could have been distracted. Similarly, there are rarely problems with maintenance or repair of the vehicle since braking is not an issue in left turn cases.
Underride Accidents – When a trucker makes a left or right turn which causes it’s trailer to block the highway, there is no doubt always a chance that a passenger vehicle will not see the trailer in time to stop or avoid the crash, and will end up smashing into or under the trailer. Unfortunately, the motorists in these types of crashes do not survive and are often decapitated. The absolute most important issue in an trucking underride case is the visibility of the trailer. Often times, the visibility of the trailer, mixed with bad lighting or adverse weather conditions at the time of the wreck can make it very difficult to see the side of the cross-bearing trailer. Often times, trailer will in fact have retroreflective taping on it’s sides, but it will be covered by dirt or other material obscuring the reflective taping so that the approaching driver does not recognize the trailer across the roadway and instead believes he is seeing an overpass or something similar.
Override Accidents – An override accident occurs when the truck runs over a smaller vehicle, commonly due to an instance where they are unable to stop in time. Generally, this occurs because of an error made by the truck driver or through mechanical failure. Other factors that could cause an override truck accident also include lack of visibility due to environmental concerns such as heavy rain, speeding, or driving under the influence. These types of accidents can have devastating impacts on the drivers, resulting in fatalities and catastrophic injuries. When the smaller vehicles slide underneath the truck, the safety features are incapable of responding and the drivers can be completely crushed or trapped inside the car. If they survive the accident they are at risk for spinal cord injuries, amputations, and burns, among many other potential injuries.
Rollover Accidents – Rollover trucking accidents are among the most dangerous and deadly accidents for a truck driver. They occur when the truck rolls over and ends up on its side or upside down on its roof. During a rollover, a truck driver could become catastrophically injured or killed as they are at significant risk for being crushed under the massive weight of the vehicle. Additionally, they are at high risk for suffering traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and serious neck injuries or fractures due to the sudden impact of being tossed upside down.
These types of accidents could be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Overweight cargo is another significant factor that could cause a truck rollover accident. When a truck carries cargo that is above the weight capacity limitations, the truck becomes imbalanced. If the driver brakes too sharply, the weight could re-distribute and overpower the front of the truck. This causes the truck to roll over.
Jackknife Accidents – Another incredibly serious type of trucking accident, jackknife accidents occur when the trailer of the truck slides or skids and ends up at a 90-degree angle to the cab and driver. It is sometimes described as the motion in which the blade of a pocket knife is folded back into its designated slot.
The most common cause of jackknife accidents is braking error. Improper braking can cause the front wheels of the truck to lock, which in turn causes the trailer to be dragged and eventually it swings to the side. Brakes could also be subject to improper maintenance in which they lock up due to failure.
Unfortunately, these accidents are commonly fatal for truck drivers as the cargo trailer swings around and crushes or cuts off the top of the cab where they are sitting. Additionally, jackknife accidents can also be catastrophic for other drivers because the impact is increased due to the fact that the trailer is swinging and gaining momentum before it collides with another vehicle. It is dangerous enough to have an 80,000 pound truck collide with a car, however it is even more dangerous when that weight is swinging.
Rear End Collisions – A rear end collision with an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or semi truck could occur in two ways. Either the truck driver rear ends the vehicle in front of them, or the truck is rear ended by a vehicle behind them. The is the most prevalent type of truck case is where the tractor-trailer rear ends a stopped or slowing passenger vehicle. In this situation, there are multiple issues to investigate. The truck driver may have dozed off or been tired so his drivers logs must be entirely reviewed for potential hours of service violations. The tractor-trailer may have been overweight. docuements must be obtained to see if the weight of the truck played any role in the accident and his prior history of overweight citations must be looked at to see any pattern of abuse. The tractor-trailer’s brakes may have failed or may have been out of adjustment so the vehicle needs to be inspected and repair and maintenance records must be reviewed. The truck driver may have been speeding and ECM data or a good accident reconstructionist can show whether speed was a contributing cause to the collision. When the truck causes the rear end collision, the injuries could be fatal or life-changing due to the sheer weight and force of the truck and its unexpected collision with the other vehicle. If the other vehicle rear ends the truck, the victims in the car suffer the majority of the damages due to the frontal impact. These collisions could be caused by a variety of factors, including distracted driving, speeding, being cut off by the other vehicle, hazardous road conditions, equipment failure, and more. It is incredibly important to obey traffic laws and observe safe practices when driving on the road with large trucks.
Cargo Shifts – When a vehicle is improperly loaded, the load may shift when a tractor-trailer is coming around a curve causing the tractor-trailer to jackknife or overturn. The truck driver will usually tell the
investigating officer that something unusual with the load caused the vehicle to behave strangely leading to the accident. However, it should be remembered that the truck driver will often blame
the load when in actuality the vehicle overturned because he drove too fast into the curve. In such a situation, liability can rest against both the motor carrier and the shipper. It is important to preserve through photographs and otherwise any evidence about how the load was secured and to determine if the truck driver was exceeding the speed limit. If the truck driver was exceeding the speed limit, there is rarely a claim for improper loading. However, if the truck driver was below the speed limit for the curve, and you can prove that the trailer was loaded improperly and shifted during the maneuver, then you potentially have a claim for improper loading. If you do not have evidence of the manner in which the load was placed onto the trailer and secured, it is impossible to prevail on this claim which demonstrates the importance of preserving this evidence.
Trucking accident cases can be very complicated. Our Hamilton trucking lawyers have extensive knowledge and experience with trucking accident law. Wework with the best trucking experts, for issues of driver fatigue or negligence, mechanical deficiency, defective parts, negligent hiring and compliance with Canadian regulations. Our trucking lawyers are based in Ontario, but can help trucking accident victims nationwide. Since 2003 we have assisted clients who have suffered life-changing injuries from 18-wheeler and tractor trailer accidents. We have assisted injured victims as well as their loved ones in obtaining the maximum possible settlement for their claim. It is our duty to our clients to ensure they receive the settlement they truly deserve during these difficult and challenging times. Contact our offices anywhere in Canada at 1-844-LALANDE OR local at 905-333-888 or through our online contact form to book a free consultation. We do not ask for any fees up front, and will meet with you confidentially to discuss the options available to you.