Despite neverending and ever-changing federal and state regulations, the trucking industry in Florida is alive and well, growing, and responsible for delighting little boys and keeping motorists on their toes.
A Truck for Every Purpose
Recent data from the Florida Department Of Highway Safety reports 533,643 residents who hold a commercial driver’s license. That’s a lot of trucks on our roadways. if you spend enough time traveling on the interstates you are bound to find yourself sharing the road with many different kinds of trucks.
Ecommerce has given rise to an increasing number of home delivery services, and today we find an overabundance of trucks navigating residential neighborhoods.
Possibly one of the most dangerous things a motorist can do is to lose focus when sharing the road with any size truck. As a rule of thumb, the bigger and heavier the truck, the more severe the accident. If you or a loved one has already been involved in a dangerous accident with a truck speak with a skilled truck accident attorney to discuss your options.
Trucks Commonly Found on Residential Streets
Collectively, USPS trucks visit every house in rural America every day. Think about the logistics, EVERY house EVERY day! In 2018 The fleet of United States Postal Service trucks traveled 1.4 billion miles to deliver mail. This is equivalent to 56,220 trips around Earth.
Some other interesting facts and statistics about the postal service:
- In 2018 the USPS replaced 675,000 tires
- 47 percent of the world’s mail is handled by the USPS
The Jeeps and LLVs (Long Life Vehicles)used by the United States Postal Serice have right-hand drive steering for:
- For ease and safe delivery of mail in rural areas where the mailboxes are on the side of the road
- To allow city mail carriers the ability to step out of the vehicle onto the sidewalk.
About 142,000 LLVs deliver 523 million pieces of mail every day.
With 36,800,000 address changes reported to the postal service in 2018, we can certainly understand the abundance of moving trucks in our neighborhoods.
Florida is listed as one of the top ten states in the nation that people are moving to in 2018, and the moving industry is a major player in Florida’s economic growth, contributing $ 6.74 billion to the economy in 2016.
With everybody looking for a side hustle these days, it is not uncommon to find some enterprising folks, inspired by the success of College Hunks Moving Junk, purchasing a large van and offering moving services. Some Floridians may find themselves concerned about the potential safety concerns when these oversized vehicles park on sidewalks, restrict visibility and block access for emergency response vehicles.
United Parcel Service trucks seem to be everywhere. The large brown behemoths delivered 5.2 billion packages in 2018. UPS constantly monitors and tracks its drivers.
Jack Levis, UPS’s director of process management, told National Public Radio NPR that “one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million,” and “one minute of idle per driver per day is worth $500,000 of fuel at the end of the year.” (Listen to NPR episode 536 here.)
Although the UPS driver always seems to be in a hurry, you rarely find them making a left-hand turn. The company claims right-hand turns are not only safer, but they also save money.
Trucks Commonly Found on Highways
Massive commercial-grade trucks are difficult to maneuver, they require a longer visible distance to pass in heavy traffic, and they also take a longer time and distance to come to a complete stop.
Flatbeds, unlike tractor-trailers, are mounted right on the chassis of the truck. With no sides or tops, loading, and unloading is easier than with a tractor-trailer, or semi. This type of vehicle is used mainly to transport large and bulky goods.
Whether the rig has a single deck or partial double, flatbed trucks are commonly used to transport:
- Heavy construction equipment
- Large machinery
- Steel products
- Lumber and building materials
- Other vehicles
Because of their versatility flatbeds are used frequently to transport odd-shaped goods.
Height and Weight Make a Difference in Truck Safety
A flatbed trailer can have a maximum freight weight of 48,000 pounds. The sheer size of the truck’s load, combined with the fact that the cargo may not be properly balanced make this type of highway truck highly susceptible to accidents.
Because of the open design of a flatbed, when there is an accident it is more than likely the cargo will spill onto the road, causing a chain reaction pile up as the surrounding motor vehicles run into the debris.
An accident involving a flatbed can result in extensive property damage, catastrophic physical injuries, and possibly death.
Flatbed trucks, because of their size, cause serious visual obstructions for cars driving around them.
The Florida Department Of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle documented 166,628 injury-causing accidents in 2018. To reduce the numbers of highway incidents, the National Transportation Safety Board, recommends better safety equipment – such as automatic braking systems and forward-collision warning systems.
In addition to carrying grain, sand, and milk, tankers are built to carry many toxic and dangerous materials. These large commercial vehicles can be pressurized or not, and can be manufactured insulated. Some of the larger models are actually capable of hauling two separate materials at the same time.
The materials transported in a tanker truck include:
- Industrial chemicals
The damages can be severe when a tanker truck rolls over. When a driver turns or changes lanes too quickly, the liquid cargo and shift out of balance causing the vehicle to roll over. This is sometimes called sloshing. When the tanker is not completely full, the weight of the materials moving around can cause the tank to tip over.
This type of accident can shut a highway down for hours.
- In March 2019 WFTV channel 9 reported a tanker turned over on I-95, closing all southbound lanes beginning at 10:15 a.m. when 7,200 gallons of fuel spilled on the highway. The lanes were not reopened until 3 p.m.
- In May 2019 the Sun-Sentinel reported a fuel tanker rollover that happened on I-95 near Deerfield Beach on a Sunday afternoon left roads closed until the following morning due to 4,000 gallons of fuel that needed to be cleaned up
When the tank itself is damaged in an accident any one of the following scenarios is possible:
- Fire –When flammable materials are transported, fire is a very real concern
- Explosions—Explosions are also a possibility when dealing with flammable materials
- Chemical spills—Chemicals inside the tanker may spill out causing wide-spread damages and injury.
- Chemical burns—Chemical burns are extremely serious and can result in permanent disfigurement.
Size of Tanker Trucks
Tanker trucks vary in size. Most heavy-duty tanker trucks can haul 5,500 gallons to almost 12,000 gallons, and have a gross weight over 26,000 pounds.
One of the most important issues involving cargo trucks is the proper handling of hazardous materials and adherence to regulatory agency mandates and regulations.
Drivers sharing the roadways with cement trucks would do well to pass them carefully and move on down the road. These monsters are extremely prone to accidents due to:
- A high center of gravity
- Poor maneuverability
- Equipment failure
Some of the most common types of equipment failure are:
- Tire failure – Tires are extremely overworked on a truck, and tire blowouts are a common cause of accidents.
- Brake failure – A large percentage of truck accidents are due to worn out brakes.
- Engine failure – Engine failure is common if the cooling system does not work properly.
- Light failure – Headlight failures, or electrical wiring failure can result in accidents, especially at night.
Cement trucks are more prone to accidents because of their weight. Even traveling at a slow rate of speed it is easy for a fully loaded truck to turn over.
The Types of Cement Trucks
There are three types of cement trucks:
- Rear-discharge concrete transport truck – The most common type of cement truck
- Terex advance front discharge truck – allows for easier unloading at the worksite
- Volumetric concrete mixer – This mixer reduces waste and only mixes the required amount of product.
If the cement truck driver is not properly trained or disobeys any safety protocols that were learned in training, there is a greater chance for the cement truck operator to be involved in an accident.
When Sharing the Road With a Cement Truck
Car drivers need to be aware that:
- Cement trucks are not easy to maneuver, expect them to be slow-moving
- Cement trucks have large blind spots – stay out of them
- Cement trucks have a high center of gravity
18 Wheelers/Tractor Trailers
Tractor-trailer accidents are among the most dangerous and destructive collisions on highways.
The most recent data extrapolated from The U.S. Department Of Transportation’s “large truck and bus facts” show from 2016-2017:
- The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased 10 percent, from 4,251 to 4,657
- The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 5 percent, from 102,000 to107,000
- The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes increased by 3 percent, from 351,000 to 363,000
When an 18 wheeler truck is overweight, or not properly loaded, not only is the balance off, but the momentum of the vehicle changes. Overloaded trucks:
- Need more time to stop
- Puts more pressure on the tires, causing a blowout
- Is more likely to have an axel snap
- Is more likely to have engine problems
A tractor-trailer needs approximately 525 feet to come to a complete stop. This is well over the length of a football field. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the longer it takes to stop. Because of the size and weight of a big truck, fatalities and truck accident injuries are common. A large truck that is not loaded correctly is likely to cause:
- Loss of control while steering
- Tire damage
- Rollover accidents
- Brake failure
- A decrease in stopping time
- Increased velocity traveling downhill
- Difficulty climbing inclines
Two-million tractor-trailers keep America running. Logging billions of miles, they keep food on our tables, fuel in our automobiles, our contractors supplied with building materials, and our factories operating at full steam. Call them what you will, a big rig, a semi, an 18-wheeler, the tricked out ones are equipped with things like:
- Sleeper berths
- Clothing storage areas – imagine, a closet in a truck
- Thermoelectric coolers or travel refrigerators
- A bathroom
- Flat-screen televisions
- Can be 53 feet long
- Can weigh 80,000 pounds
- Can have an engine six times the size of a passenger car engine
- Can be double, or triple
Federal regulations mandate truckers check in at weigh stations positioned at regular intervals along our highway system. Many cases of overloaded vehicles are deliberate attempts by the driver, or the truck company to move more product and boost their bottom line.
These weigh stations can usually be found at state lines are set up to weigh and inspect large commercial trucks to ensure compliance with federal regulations. Passenger car drivers should be aware when noticing warning signs of upcoming weigh stations, that most of the trucks on the highway will exit. This would be the time to stay out of harm’s way. Move over and allow the trucks to exit off the road safely.
If your family experienced an accident involving a truck, contacting an experienced truck accident lawyer can answer your questions.