You’re driving on I-65 to Louisville to visit your son or daughter at university when you notice a semi-truck ahead of you weaving back and forth over the lane divider. He keeps it up for several miles and is clearly either distracted, having a medical emergency, under the influence, or falling asleep. What do you do?
Read below for advice on reasons why you should report unsafe truck drivers, how you should report them, and what to do if you are injured as a result of a truck driver’s unsafe driving.
There are over 15.5 million semi-trucks (trucks that weigh anywhere from 10,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds) constantly crossing the United States, including Kentucky. It would be virtually impossible for you to drive a distance between any two major towns in our state without encountering at least one and usually many more of these vehicles. (This includes rural routes and secondary roads as well as the interstates.)
Unfortunately, because of their weight and longer stopping distances, semi-trucks can easily cause fatalities when they crash into other vehicles. In fact, 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018, a number 31% higher than in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In Kentucky alone, a total of 10,620 trucks were involved in collisions, 116 in fatal collisions, and 1,580 in non-fatal injury collisions in 2018, according to statistics released by the Kentucky State Police. Clearly, when things go wrong, the results can be tragic.
In the interests of public safety, you should report an unsafe truck driver for doing any of the following things:
Although it is true that many trucks weighing over 26,001 pounds are fitted with speed limiters, many older or lighter trucks do not have this equipment. Truckers are under intense pressure to deliver their cargo on-time, so speeding is a frequent problem. In 2018, the number of speeding violations issued to truck drivers in the U.S. increased 7.8% to 146,945.
A truck driver who swerves between lanes or on and off the shoulder is a safety hazard. You should report any driver who seems to be having problems staying in the lane. The driver may be ill, under the influence of medication or alcohol, distracted by a cell phone, or — the most likely cause — extremely fatigued. There are strict rules (Hours of Service Regulations) for how many hours truckers can drive in a 24 hour period, but their disjointed schedules mean that they rarely get enough quality sleep. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), fatigue can cause shortfalls in performance, including slower response times, attention failures, and poor decision making.
Following too closely
Any driver who tailgates can cause a rear-end collision, but it is especially dangerous for truck drivers to follow too closely. Fully loaded trucks need stopping distances of almost two football fields (FMCSA) — and that’s in optimal conditions. Drivers and passengers do not have much chance of surviving rear-end collisions with big-rigs, so if you are feeling anxious that the trucker behind you seems a little too up close and personal, you are right to be concerned.
Staying in the left lane
In Kentucky, if the highway speed is 65 mph or higher, it is illegal for a vehicle to fail to move into the right lane if another vehicle is attempting to pass. Most truckers do stay in the right-hand lane, but every once in a while, you will find yourself stuck behind one who stubbornly stays in the left, despite struggling to maintain speed uphill. This is not right and should be reported.
Any kind of reckless driving should be reported, not because you are annoyed or because you want to vent your irritation but because you may be saving someone’s life. Any reckless driver can put lives at risk, but operators of huge and heavy trucks with massive blind spots are accidents waiting to happen.
How to report an unsafe truck driver
As it happens:
If you notice any kind of unsafe driving, call 911 or the Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555 (KYTC). Either have a passenger make the call or take an exit and pull over so you can call safely. Don’t try to chase the driver down yourself — protect yourself by keeping a safe distance. Give as much specific identifying information as possible (where the vehicle is, what happened, description of the truck, license plate, date and time, etc.) just to be safe.
After the fact:
You can also call the “How’s my driving?” number if the truck has that sticker. If there is no sticker, you can have your passenger record the license plate number and state and call the company that the driver works for. There are also free apps available, such as Fail Driver.
Your Neighborhood Personal Injury Law Office
If you have been involved in an accident with a semi-truck in Central Kentucky or the surrounding counties, McCoy & Sparks, PLLC, is here to make sure you get fair compensation for your pain and suffering, hospital bills, lost wages, and more. Tragically, many truck crashes lead to fatalities. More often, the victims survive but are permanently disabled.
We will thoroughly investigate who is responsible for your injuries and determine the level of compensation you and your loved ones deserve. The law recognizes that a negligent trucker’s employer can be held at least partly responsible for injuries the driver caused you, depending on the circumstances.