A Look at the Causes Behind Tractor Trailer Accidents in Florida: Part II

April 14, 2014

Each year, there are over 500,000 trucking crashes across the country and 5,000 such crashes result in at least one fatality, so over 500 people are killed each year by being involved in a truck incident . In any crash involving a commercial truck, there is a greater chance of serious injury or death than in accidents between two motor vehicles. In Part I of this three part series, we our Miami tractor trailer accident lawyers will look at two of the most common causes of commercial trucking accidents:

1) Driver Fatigue and

2) Distracted Driving. We examine some additional common causes of commercial truck crashes in this second segment.

3. Drug Use
--a recent study examining the cause of truck accidents found that the use of either illegal or prescription drugs played a role in 26% of all crashes. Drugs lead to erratic behavior and impaired a trucker's reaction time. Reaction is the time from when our eyes perceive a danger and the time we begin to react, i.e., hit the brakes, swerve, etc. During this "reaction time" a vehicle travels a certain distance dependant on its speed .Drug use among truckers is notoriously high, with some long haul truckers resorting to stimulant drugs to keep them awake through the night and combat tedious hours on the road. Your experienced Florida truck accident attorney will investigate whether drugs contributed to your accident.

4. Speeding--according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, speed is a contributing factor in over 23% of all trucking crashes . Excessive speed when driving an 80,000 pound commercial truck often becomes deadly. Trucking companies have the means to control and monitor their driver's speed through speed governors, but not all use these devices due to the expense associated with their purchase and installation. A licensed Florida truck accident attorney can determine the speed at which the truck was traveling at the time of the accident to further your claim and often the degree of braking used, if any..

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A Look at the Causes Behind Tractor Trailer Accidents in Florida: Part I

April 7, 2014

A search of the local news reveals that accidents involving commercial trucks, big rigs, tractor trailers, and 18 wheelers occur all too often in South Florida, with frequently deadly results. Recently, in Palm Beach, Florida, a large crane truck ran over a pedestrian, killing the man then continuing to drive for about a mile before realizing a person was struck. The crane was heading on Royal Palm and turning south on South Country Road when the incident occurred. Witnesses attempted to warn the crane driver before he ran over 68 year old James Brennan, who fell underneath the truck.

Meanwhile, in Miramar, a tractor trailer struck a woman in a wheelchair, who was dragged by the truck before the driver sped off. The woman died instantly, and the driver was later apprehended.

In West Palm Beach, a car that hydroplaned on I-95 ended up wedged underneath a semi-truck. The vehicle was dragged for several miles, and though the ride was terrifying, amazingly the driver and passenger of the vehicle remained unharmed.

The result was not so fortunate for JoJo Nicolas, a former University of Miami football player who died in a crash involving a tractor trailer in Miami. Nicolas was driving westbound on the Causeway when he rear-ended a tractor trailer in front of him. His vehicle went under the tractor trailer and the truck tore into the car. The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

As these local news stories illustrate, tractor trailer and other large commercial truck accidents can lead to tragic consequences and occur at alarming frequency. In Part I of this three part series, our Miami truck accident lawyers examine some of the common causes of tractor trailer accidents in Florida. It is our hope that this list can help you stay safe by anticipating the causes of truck accidents. It will also aid in your understanding of the problem of truck accidents so that if you are in an accident, your chances of recovery will be better.

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How Black Box Technology Can Bring Violations to Light

March 25, 2014

For many years, truck drivers have been breaking the rules in order to get products to their destinations faster, whether on their own initiatives or at the urging of trucking companies looking at the financial bottom line. Even log books have not been able to stop this bad behavior, but the use of black boxes may demonstrate the wrongdoing with clear evidence, leading to justice for those who been harmed as the result of a commercial truck accident.

The knowledgeable and hard-working South Florida truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have used the available tools to recover damages for truck accident victims for more than thirty years. We will use this new technology as one more way to identify and hold accountable those individuals and companies responsible for the injuries that our clients suffered.

Black boxes are making the leap from airplanes to trucks and even some passenger cars. These boxes can record speeds, locations based on built-in global positioning systems (GPS), braking distances, including how quickly brakes were applied in relation to distance traveled, and hours when the vehicle was being operated. This information may be critical in accident reconstruction, but it also may be used to track the route that the driver took to the bar to show where and how many drinks were consumed prior to the accident.

Black boxes are, in effect, an electronic version of the log book with additional details about each trip, but cannot be manipulated as easily because of the tie-in to the various systems of the truck and the electronic record. The devices may record other critical information related to a collision, including correspondence between the truck driver and the trucking company immediately following a crash. There even may be admissions of guilt in these transmissions. In addition, the communications may contain information about mechanical problems that were ignored or overlooked, indications of driver fatigue, or challenges that the driver was having with the specific type of truck.

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Why Unreasonable Trucking Deadlines Lead to Accidents in Florida

March 17, 2014

The trucking companies that operate across the country make their money based on the delivery of goods from one location to another. The faster the tractor-trailer can get those goods to the destination, the faster that truck can get back and pick up another load. This means that a trucking company is motivated to push its drivers to drive longer hours at faster speeds. While there are restrictions on how long a driver can be on the road before taking a mandated break, altering log books to hide the fact that the trucks are on the road for many more hours than is proper is not uncommon. When driver fatigue leads to accidents, the consequences are terrible for everyone impacted.

The Miami truck accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have more than three decades of experience in working to get their clients the compensation that they deserve for the harm that they suffered in a truck accident.

Although a deadline may be set based on a possibility that the driver can make the trip in the time allotted while still adhering to state and federal regulations, the schedule might be so tight that an unexpected traffic slowdown will make the deadline impossible without cutting corners and staying on the road beyond allowable hours.

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Five Things the Trucking Company Should Have Done to Prevent that Accident

March 10, 2014

When a collision happens between a trucking company and a passenger car, the injuries to the victims in the car often are horrific because of the size disparity between the 80,000 pound truck and 3- 4,000 pound car. Frequently, the fault lies with the driver of the truck who turned in front of the car or could not stop in time because of traveling at high speeds or due to distracted driving. However, the trucking company who put this driver on the road might share some of the blame.

The Miami truck accident lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. understand that the trucking companies needed to take affirmative steps to protect everyone who shares the road with their rigs. When the these trucking operators fail to take reasonable actions, the trucking companies may be responsible for the harm that you or a loved one suffered in the collision with their trucks. Our law firm will work to hold all responsible parties accountable for your or your loved one's injuries.

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Alcohol Abuse Leads to Commercial Truck Accidents in South Florida

March 4, 2014

It is a fact that drunk driving continues to be a serious problem on roads throughout South Florida. This danger is compounded when the drunk driver is behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer where even accidents that happen at low rates of speed lead to devastating injuries for the occupants of the passenger car impacted by the commercial truck.

As experienced Miami truck accident attorneys, the lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. understand the devastation faced by those who have been harmed in a tractor-trailer accident, as well as their family members. We will fight to get you the damages recovery that you need for ongoing medical bills, related expenses, and the terrible pain and suffering that you have endured as a result of the truck crash. We have handled well over a 100 truck accident cases. Some have involved deaths while in others we have represented those injured by a truckers negligence. Our founding partner is on the Florida board of APITLA ( Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America) and all the firm's attorneys are experienced in handling truck accidents, knowing the regulations which apply and how to go about proving fault. Truck accidents ARE NOT the same as car crashes and should be handled in a different manner by experienced lawyers and experts..It is important to hire a qualified lawyer as soon as possible after an crash involving a truck. May trucking companies are taught to call their insurance carrier.
When hiring a truck driver, a commercial trucking company should have performed a background check looking for evidence of alcohol or illegal substance abuse, including:

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Trucking Industry Doubts Effectiveness of New Technology

August 15, 2013

There is a constant struggle between the implementing new technology as a means of improving safety on the road and the cost and practicality of that technology. After its July (2013) board meeting, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is touting the effectiveness of new technology that allows vehicles to talk to each other. However, some people in the trucking industry do not believe that the technology will have the intended safety benefits and argue that this is just the latest in a long line of expensive burdens placed on a struggling industry.

The impetus for the latest recommendation was two fatal school bus accidents in Florida and New Jersey. The New Jersey crash was caused when a school bus failed to yield to a trash hauling truck and a young girl died. The NTSB has professed its belief that if the vehicles were in communication with each other, the school bus driver would have realized the truck was quickly approaching the intersection and stopped, avoiding the tragic fatality. Unfortunately, accidents involving heavy trucks are common and often involve serious injury. If you have been harmed in an accident with a truck, the Miami truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A. can help you get the compensation that you need to restore your quality of life.

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Causes of Serious and Fatal Tractor-Trailer Accidents in Miami

August 9, 2013

Tractor-trailers and many other types of large trucks share the highways in the Miami area with you and your family at all times of the day and night. Importantly, drivers of tractor-trailers undergo specialized training to learn how to safely operate and maintain their vehicles. Despite this training and the understanding that tractor-trailers pose a danger to everyone on the highway when they are operated improperly, tractor-trailer accidents do happen, often with tragic results. There are several different causes of tractor-trailer accidents. Our Miami truck accident lawyers have provided a few common examples:

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Road Defects in South Florida Lead to Truck Accidents and Serious Injuries

August 5, 2013

Southern Florida has thousands of miles of roadways and these roads are used by innumerable trucks to haul goods and supplies to locations throughout the region. When federal, state, and local authorities take the appropriate steps to maintain these thoroughfares, truckers are able to complete their jobs and return to their home base without incident. However, when a defect in the surface of the road, uncleared debris, or even a poorly designed section of road result in a truck accident, the consequences are devastating. If you have been involved in an accident involving a truck and suspect that a defective roadway played a significant part in the horrific event, our expertise might be exactly what you need.

For example, our firm sued the Florida Department of Transportation over a poorly maintained bridge who's worn road surface led to a catastrophic cross-over crash. Our Miami Truck Accident lawyers recovered a $22 million dollar settlement.

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Here's a Quick Checklist For Recreational Vehicle Drivers in Florida

July 18, 2013

Recreational vehicles (RVs), including trailers and motor homes, are extremely popular in the United States, but especially in Florida. Due to the State's gorgeous weather, beautiful coastlines and many popular tourist destinations, it is not surprising why thousands of Floridians and visitors alike enjoy taking their RVs out for some luxury-style camping. Generally speaking, recreational vehicles are safe and highly reliable methods of transportation. However, for a multitude of different reasons, they can lead to serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Specifically, an accident involving an RV can be caused by anything from driver error to manufacturing defects. To illustrate, our Miami recreational vehicle accident attorneys have provided a list of the most common causes of RV accidents:

• Vehicle defects. There are various forms of defects, the most popular of which include:

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Longer Combination Vehicles (LCV) Causing More Accidents on Florida Roads

July 17, 2013

Longer combination vehicles (LCVs) are trucks with two or more cargo areas (doubles or triples are common). These vehicles are becoming a larger percentage of the trucks on the road and they are traveling more and more miles, despite restrictions on usage because of the pavement wear impact. Florida permits two-types of LCVs, both of which are a form of double.

The National Center for Freight and Infrastructure recently has issued a study examining the use of LCVs, which provides detailed information, but shows that a lot more information is needed about the increased safety risk of LCVs on Florida roadways. What is not in dispute is that a person injured in an accident with an LCV is going to need an experienced, well-versed, Miami truck accident attorney in order to get the recovery he or she deserves.

As gas prices increase and emission-controls increase, there will be more LCVs on the roadways that permit their use. This sets up a situation where there are going to be increased crashes between these LCVs and cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, and light trucks, leading to serious injuries and deaths.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when there is an accident between a large truck and a car, 98% of any resulting fatalities are in the passenger vehicle and not in the truck. Due to the greater length of the LCVs and the combination of multiple cargo areas, these trucks have a greater risk of jack-knifing, caused by a lock-up of the drive axel brakes, roll-over, loss of control, and swaying out of a lane while traveling at a high rate of speed. Jack-knifing is a particular danger with LCVs because of the increased chance of a passenger vehicle being crushed between the different sections of the truck or running into a jack-knifed truck which is blocking travel lanes.

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Governor Rick Scott Signs Ban On Emailing, IMing, and Texting While Driving.

June 22, 2013

On May 28, 2013, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 52 into law. Senate Bill 52 bans texting, emailing, and instant messaging while driving. It is referred to as the "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law." Florida joins most other states in implementing a full or partial ban on hand-held device use while driving. The intent of the law, per its language, is to improve roadway safety; prevent crashes; reduce injuries, deaths, property damage, health care costs, and insurance rate; and allow police officers to issue citations as a secondary offense. The full text of the law can be found in this site.

Talking on a hand-held device while driving is banned in multiple states. Text messaging while driving is banned in 41 states. It is also banned in the District of Columbia. The use of cell phones by young drivers is restricted in 37 states, although Florida is not included in the states with a young driver restriction. Many other municipalities have enacted restrictions as well. South Carolina, Arizona, and Montana are the only three states that have no restrictions at all on texting while driving.

Additionally, texting and the use of hand-held devices by commercial and bus drivers while operating such vehicles is prohibited by federal regulations. Under regulations published by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), fines and penalties can be assessed against drivers caught violating this rule. Drivers can be fined up to $2,750, and employers can be fined up to $11,000. Violations can also result in loss of a driver's qualification. These fines and penalties come in the wake of research done for FMCSA showing that the risk of crashes and other potentially dangerous traffic violations, such as lane deviations, is more than 23 times higher for drivers of commercial vehicles that text while driving. Drivers who text while driving look away from the road for approximately 4.6 seconds, which covers a distance of 371 feet at 55 miles per hour. More information is available at this site.

Lawsuits have been brought all around the United States alleging that truck drivers were texting while driving and therefore negligent in causing accidents. In 2012, in New Jersey, a lawsuit was also brought against the sender of text messages to an individual the sender knew to be driving, although the judge eventually dismissed the complaint against the sender. If you or your loved one has been involved in a car or trucking accident in the Miami area and texting may have been involved, please contact us to discuss your case. The office of Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A., has been handling car and truck accidents in Miami and throughout South Florida for decades. Please visit our website to learn more about our car accident attorneys, and contact us today for a free consultation at (305)595-2400.

Despite its attempts to ban texting, emailing, and instant message while driving, critics of Florida's Senate Bill 52 have asserted that it is insufficient. One major criticism is that it is a secondary offense law. This means that an individual cannot be stopped for violating the Florida law. However, an individual can be cited for an offense if the individual is stopped for another violation. Florida's seatbelt usage law also started out as a secondary offense law, but eventually became a primary offense law. Fines for violating the hand-held device use law are also small-$30 for a first offense and $60 for a second offense within five years. Critics have also questioned the exceptions in the law, which include use of hand-held devices for navigation, voice-to-text services, and while stopped at a red light.

Florida Truck Accidents Resulting From Driver Disregard for Others

May 24, 2013

Have you ever been behind the wheel of a large SUV in Miami? The feel of driving a taller, larger and heavier vehicle gives the driver of these vehicles more confidence than those driving smaller cars. This added confidence sometimes makes these drivers feel that they are the "kings and queens" of the road causing them to disregard the other cars. This added confidence is much greater for a truck driver and their indifference to other vehicles is even greater than that of individuals driving SUVs. Such indifference is the cause of many dangerous truck accidents on Florida roads. Establishing the negligence of a truck driver under these circumstances requires the skill of an experienced and well trained truck accident attorney. Truck crashes are not the same as car crashes. A whole other skill set and knowledge of trucking rules and regulations is required to maximize a client's recovery.

Why do Some Truck Drivers Disregard Others on the Road?

As explained above, driving a larger and heavier vehicle gives the operator of such vehicle added confidence on the road. The person behind the wheel of a large SUV feels safer than a person behind a compact car. The reality, though, is that these large SUVs are barely double the weight of a compact car. A USA today reports indicated that the average compact car weighs approximately 3,000 pounds while a large SUV weighs 5,400 pounds. Despite such minimal difference in weight, the driver of a SUV is fooled into believing that his/her car would better protect him/her in the event of a collision.

The difference in weight between a truck and a compact car is much greater. Heavy duty trucks can weigh north of 30,000 pounds. That is more than ten times the weight of a compact car. Truck drivers, behind these massive vehicles, feel much more confident and safer than the other individuals on the road. This added confidence often leads these truck drivers to disregard others on the road. Truck drivers often make improper turns and lane changes believing that the other smaller vehicles will yield the right of way. In our experience, such disregard for others on the road is one of the leading causes of truck crashes in Miami, Florida. Victims of truck accidents will need to establish the negligence of the truck driver in order to recover damages. Victims of these crashes should always turn to an experienced truck accident lawyer in these types of cases.

Establishing the Truck Driver's Negligence

State and Federal laws have adopted many laws and regulations involving commercial vehicles on the roadways. The following are some examples of these regulations: Commercial vehicles have weight limits; truck drivers are required to keep a logbook with maximum number of hours driving and resting in certain cases; commercial motor vehicle drivers are no longer permitted to use hand-held telephones, etc. These laws and regulations set forth general standards to insure that commercial motor vehicles are as safe as possible while on the road. It is a much easier task to establish negligence when the driver of a commercial motor vehicle violates one of these rules as the general standard concerning the safety was violated. This is not the case for "driver disregard" truck crashes.

In cases involving a truck driver's disregard for others, there is often no general rule which was violated. Rather, the personal injury trucking attorney's task in these cases will be to recreate the scene of the accident in order to show the truck acted in a negligent and/or reckless fashion. The personal injury lawyer will have to interview witnesses and review the police reports relative to the crash. If tire or gauge marks were left on the road, the attorney will have to hire an expert to assist the lawyer in recreating the scene of the accident. The physical damage to the vehicles is key. We often keep at least our client's car in a warehouse as evidence and make sure that the truck and or trailer is maintained so that our expert can look at it and photograph it. Once the scene of accident is recreated by the attorney, he will use the same in order to demonstrate that the driver disregarded the other vehicles on the road or that the driver made an improper turn and/or lane change. Establishing such negligence requires the skill of a highly experienced truck accident attorney. Thus, victims of these types of truck crashes should always seek the professional help of a lawyer who specializes in this field.

Our firm is also highly experienced in dealing with all types of injuries, from the simple to the complex and catastrophic. It's our job to make sure that we recover as much as possible for our client to help compensate them for their loss.

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Tractor Trailer Strikes Overpass in Miami

April 29, 2013

A tractor trailer hauling two heavy duty boat engines hit an overpass causing the engines to topple over onto a car that was stopped in the next lane.

No Injuries

According to miamiherald.com, the driver of the car, a late model silver Honda Accord, survived the horrific accident without injuries and was able to walk away.

Witnesses to the crash, who were on their way to a Taylor Swift Concert at the nearby American Airlines Arena, were startled by the loud sound of the engines first crashing into the overpass and then onto the Honda. While some described the sound like an explosion, others referred to it like an "earthquake." One of the witnesses, Michael Mesa, turned to look as soon as he heard the impact of the engines against the overpass and actually saw the engines fall off the truck and land on the top of the car.

Height Limitation for Tractor-Trailers

There are no specific federal regulations limiting the height of commercial trucks. Truck drivers need to know the height of their truck and cargo, and map out a route that does not involve bridges or overpasses that are not high enough or wide enough. When a driver encounters an overpass, wires or other overhead obstruction (toll booths are an example,) it is the driver's responsibility to stop his rig and not proceed. Overpasses usually have their height clearly marked so that drivers can see it before passing underneath. Typically there are road signs warning truckers of an upcoming low bridge situated at point where the trucker still has time to change his route or stop.

Florida Statute 316.515 (2) establishes that no truck shall exceed the height of 13 feet, 6 inches, including the load it is carrying at anytime. There is an exception in the statute for trucks carrying motor vehicles, which are allowed to reach a height of 14 feet, inclusive of the cargo.

We do not know what was the over-all height of the truck and its cargo in this particular case. The bridge that was struck should have had an overpass warning sign displayed, but, for some reason, it did not have a warning sign. Therefore, it is unclear whether any charges will be filed against the trucker.

Liability for Damages

It is important to note that while no charges may be filed against the truck driver, the trucking company and its insurance carrier may be responsible for the damages caused to the Honda Accord. Similarly, they could have been liable for any injuries that might have been suffered by the Honda's driver. In a case such as this, as in any accident case, a driver who is injured as a result of the negligence of another should contact experienced truck accidents lawyers like those from the Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A., as soon as possible following the collision.

Our firm has handled hundreds of trucking cases, some in which the victims have suffered devastating injuries. For example, we represented a young lady who's Honda Civic went under a large eighteen-wheeler that made an improper U-turn in front of her car. The car was left unrecognizable and the young woman had to be cut out of the car by fire rescue and airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as other orthopedic injuries. To learn more about a few of the trucking cases we have successfully handled over the years, please go to the Notable Cases section of our website.

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Tractor Trailer Driver Burned in Accident

January 31, 2013

The driver of a tractor-trailer who seemingly fell asleep at the wheel is in critical condition after sustaining third degree burns over 60 percent of his body from the crash . According to mahwah.patch.com, 64-year-old Clarence J. Belton, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, likely fell asleep at the wheel of his eighteen-wheeler, veering of the road late at night last Tuesday. Belton's truck subsequently struck another tractor-trailer hat was parked on the shoulder, broke through the guardrail and drove into the woods.

Truck Caught Fire

At some point during the accident, the fuel tanks of the eighteen-wheeler were punctured and the truck caught fire, with both the vehicle and the driver ending up completely engulfed in flames. By the time police arrived, Mr. Belton had managed to crawl out of his truck and was lying on the ground in flames from his chest down. Police Sgt. Rob Curtis used a fire extinguisher to put Mr. Belton's fire out, noting that by then he had suffered third degree burns to 60 percent of his body from his chest to his feet.

By Wednesday morning firefighters had put out the fire, but not before it had completely destroyed the eighteen-wheeler, which was hauling milk cartons. the fire spread to the near by woods surrounding the accident scene.

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a common occurrence in eighteen-wheeler accidents. Truckers stay behind the wheel for more hours than they are allowed to by law and more than they should. once tired drivers often fall asleep. Throughout our many years of practice we have seen crashes happen time and again due to fatigue . Typically, jobs that are supposed to be handled by two drivers, are handled by one driver because they don't want to split the money that the trucking company is paying for a particular trip between two. Since they don't have a back-up driver to help them handle the extra hours, they have to stay behind the wheel for more hours than they should, get tired and fall asleep. This situation is usually aggravated when the company sets an unreasonable delivery schedule, making it more difficult for the driver to rest as much as he needs.

We cannot help but wonder whether the delivery schedule for this particular truck-load was reasonable. In our many years of experience handling commercial truck accident cases, we have seen trucking companies set unreasonable delivery schedules for their trucks, forcing their drivers to drive far longer hours than they legally should, all in the name of profit. It would not be the first time we see greed propel tractor-trailer drivers to drive far more hours than they should until fatigue sets in and an accident happens. However, as we've said before, the blame should not be placed solely on the truck drivers: trucking companies and their freight forwarding clients should not be allowed to set delivery schedules that cannot be met unless the truck drivers break the rules. Consequently, these drivers are prompted to continuously drive for so many hours that they end up falling asleep and causing this kind of accidents.

We frequently report on tractor-trailer accidents caused by circumstances similar to those in this case. For example, in our post of October 15, 2012, we talk about another eighteen-wheeler accident in which two people were killed after a truck driver apparently fell asleep and rear-ended their vehicles.

Of course, these accident not only happen when truck drivers fall asleep. In our post of November 15, 2012, we reported about a commercial truck accident were several vehicles were rear-ended by a trucker distracted while using his cell phone.

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