Ohio truck safety faces bumpy road

Passengers in a passenger sedan, SUV, or minivan have slimmer chances of escaping unscathed in a crash with a loaded semi-tractor trailer traveling at 60 to 80 mph. For this reason, Ohio must take measures to help prevent truck accidents.

Sadly, though, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported a rise in truck accident fatalities following years of decline. Accident deaths fell from 5,240 in 2005 to 3,380 in 2009. But, these deaths rose every almost year since 2009 and reached 4,317 in 2016, which is the last year that these figures were calculated.

Trucks generally weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger car and are usually much higher. These vehicles also take 20 to 40 percent longer to bring to a stop. Negligent truck maintenance of components such as brakes, driver distraction, and truck driver fatigue multiply the impact of these physical differences.

To see just how dangerous these trucks can be when negligently driven or maintained, one need only look at a case from a few years ago. There, a truck collided with a slow-moving line of vehicles in a construction zone on the Ohio Turnpike in Erie County in 2016. A 14-year-old girl from New York was killed. The truck also collided with eight other vehicles. Thirteen people suffered injuries.

Shockingly, the 14-year-old victim was a passenger in the sixth or seventh vehicle to absorb the impact of the truck. The truck driver eventually pled guilty to misdemeanor vehicle homicide, was sentenced to 66 days imprisonment, and lost his license for two years.

But the problem of truck accidents persists. Earlier this month, two members of a Gibsonburg family were killed and a third individual suffered serious injuries when a tractor-trailer crashed into their vehicle in backed-up traffic on I-280. Their Jeep Wrangler caught on fire after it was struck in the rear. Before crashing into their vehicle, the tractor-trailer hit a car. Then it crashed into another vehicle after hitting the Wrangler. The truck then swerved off the highway and overturned. State Troopers claim that impairment was a factor in this particular crash.

Proponents argue for tougher criminal penalties for an employer who hires an unqualified trucker or driver with a poor safety record. However, regardless of how far the criminal law reaches, negligent truckers and truck companies can still be held liable through a civil claim for the damages they cause.. For most victims, this is the only way to recover the compensation they need to pay off medical expenses and recoup lost wages. Pursuing one of these claims is usually a battle, though, which is why truck accident victims are usually better off discussing their cases with qualified legal professionals.

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