We all know that delivery services have gone up during 2020 for two big reasons: stay-at-home orders and people just generally buying into the convenience of shopping online. It’s common sense that there would be more truck drivers on the highways and residential streets. But with more of these large commercial vehicles using the roadways, what has that done to vehicle crashes?
In March 2020, a report from the National Safety Council stated that fatal crashes have gone up nationally 14%, and crash fatalities are up 17% in New York. This is surprising when the average consumer is likely driving less because of stay-at-home orders, working from home, unemployment and furloughs, and numerous delivery options.
Some accidents in the news
In addition to the fatal crashes, many accidents involving commercial trucks are resulting in serious injuries and fatalities, such as these recent incidents:
- Delivery tractor trailer for Amazon Prime crashes on New Jersey turnpike injures five and kills baby (Cranbury Township, NJ, June 27, 2020)
- Garbage truck crash injures three. (Syracuse, NY, June 22, 2020)
- Ryder Truck Rental tractor-trailer crashes into vehicle on I-90 causing injuries (Stafford, NY, June 3, 2020)
- Pedestrian struck by delivery driver in Orchard Park, NY on a Sunday night (Orchard Park, NY, April 12, 2020)
Commercial drivers include not only long-haul truckers such as semis and tractor-trailers, but food delivery services are also on the road now more than ever such as Grub Hub, Uber Eats, Door Dash, Bite Squad, not to mention every delivery pizza chain. Good delivery services such as FedEx, UPS and DHL are now commonly seen driving down residential streets. The Amazon smile painted on the side of trucks whizzes by. All of these increased commercial vehicles on the road add up to more severe accidents and more need for drivers to be cautious. The increased use of commercial vehicles during this time has added to the severity of crashes for several reasons.
Why you might be in danger
Understanding what it’s like to be in the shoes of a large vehicle driver may help you to know why you need to yield to them whenever possible. Three main conditions may cause you to be in danger when these delivery vehicles and other large vehicles are near:
Poor visibility – You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating. If you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, they can’t see you.
Driver can’t feel collision – In a semi-truck or even down to the size of a pickup truck, the driver may bump or scrape your car and not even feel it.
Time pressure and deadlines – Delivery services are in high demand and this leads to pressure to deliver more items in less time. This pressure can lead to speeding and less care for safety, which puts you on the risk while sharing the road.
Increased delivery windows – The United States Post Office delivers packages and mail sometimes on Sundays while in the past the service would be closed that day. Other delivery services have followed suit such as in the collision referenced above where the pedestrian was struck after 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night.
All these factors point to people needing to be more careful – for their own safety – when driving and being near commercial vehicles. If you were injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, seek legal advice. The claims process may be complicated by the commercial nature of the vehicle and the driver’s personal insurance policy. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help ensure your injury claim includes all possible avenues for seeking compensation.
Without evidence, the investigation into a car crash would likely involve just the conflicting accounts of the drivers involved. Evidence helps police officers and other parties, like insurance companies and the courts, know what actually happened during and after a wreck.
Adequate documentation of what occurred at the time of the crash can make a big difference in the success of your claim for compensation and how much you are able to secure. Without the right evidence, you may struggle to make even an insurance claim, let alone bring a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash.
Documenting the scene of the crash can show you didn’t cause it.
The police officers who respond to collisions often have to weigh the statements made by each party involved and make a determination of fault based on what information those people provide. Some people will intentionally manipulate police officers or the scene of the crime to make it look like they are less responsible for the crash than they were.
For example, if you have to move your vehicles to allow for the continued safe flow of traffic, the position you moved them into may not clearly show how the other driver was obviously at fault. Taking pictures of the scene of the crash immediately from multiple angles can help demonstrate the actual scene of the accident and better establish fault.
Request video footage and secure witness statements.
Police vehicles and police body armor typically have cameras installed, which means that if there was an officer nearby at the time of the crash, they may have valuable evidence of the collision. They may even have documentation that can help you prove impairment or exhaustion on the part of the other driver thanks to recording their appearance and words after the crash.
Even if police footage isn’t available, there may be security cameras from nearby businesses, traffic cameras from nearby intersections or even dashcam footage from vehicles in nearby traffic, to say nothing of people who are physically present and witnessed the crash who can provide testimony.
Those who get hurt will need medical evidence.
To claim compensation for an injury you suffered in the crash, you will need to prove to the courts or insurance company that the crash either caused the injury or significantly exacerbated it. You will need medical documentation to do that.
The sooner you see your physician or seek evaluation at a hospital or urgent care facility, the clearer the connection between your injuries and the crash will become. Additionally, medical records can help demonstrate that you have made every reasonable effort to reduce the impact of the injuries on your life and to comply with doctors’ orders, which can limit claims that your actions contributed to your current condition.
After you were involved in a car crash and suffered a head injury, you discovered what it means to have post-concussion syndrome. Your medical provider told you that you may suffer from the symptoms of this syndrome for a few weeks or months, though some people have it much longer.
You’ve been dealing with symptoms including headaches, irritability and fatigue. You can’t go back to work because it would require you to be on a computer. Combined with your headaches, there’s just no way for you to get work done with this condition. Adding onto that your complete irritability throughout the shift, you worry that returning to work could actually hurt you in the long-term, leading to possible work-related consequences because of your unpredictable behavior.
Living with this condition is frustrating, and it’s something that the other party who harmed you should be held liable for. Depending on the cause of the collision, they could already be facing criminal charges, such as for drinking and driving or for reckless driving causing injuries. On top of that, you have a right to pursue a civil case against anyone who harms you due to their negligent or reckless actions.
When you file a claim for your injuries, should you talk about post-concussion syndrome?
Yes, you should. This syndrome can affect you for quite some time, and it can have lasting implications for your daily life and job. You want to make sure that the other party is held accountable for all injuries that you’ve suffered, even if the syndrome doesn’t appear immediately following the collision. Our website has more on this injury and what you need to do if you’ve suffered as a victim of a collision.
With spring on its way, we’re entering heavy weather season. That brings additional hazards to your driving, as weather events can have a major impact on your crash risk.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 21% of all crashes occur in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, sleet, fog, ice, snow or high winds. About 5,000 people are killed and approximately 418,000 are injured each year, on average, due to bad weather conditions.
Does bad weather exonerate bad drivers? Not at all. Although weather conditions can be challenging, they create the same known hazards over and over. Drivers have a legal responsibility to drive safely for the conditions, no matter what they are. There are reliable techniques for driving safely, no matter the conditions.
What are some known weather-related dangers?
Using a 10-year crash average for the years 2007 through 2016, the Federal Highway Administration estimates the most dangerous driving conditions. Somewhat surprisingly, the most dangerous is simply wet pavement:
- Wet pavement: 15% of all crashes
- Rain: 10% of all crashes
- Snow/sleet: 4% of all crashes
- Snow/slushy pavement: 4% of all crashes
- Icy pavement: 3% of all crashes
- Fog: 1% of all crashes
One of the reasons wet pavement is so dangerous is that water mixes with the oil and grease already on the roadway to create a super-slick mix. Another reason may be that people don’t perceive wet pavement as very threatening.
Slow down. The most important lesson for driving safely in poor conditions is to slow down. This may help you prevent a crash altogether, and it can definitely reduce the seriousness of a crash.
Avoid driving through water of unknown depth. If you can’t see how deep a puddle is, you don’t know if it will be too deep for your car. It could flood your engine, impair your brakes and lead to hydroplaning, where a layer of water comes between your tires and the pavement.
Avoid potholes. It may seem obvious, but a large pothole can do serious damage to your vehicle, including disabling it in the roadway.
Keep your tires properly inflated. Having full tires is safer and can reduce the damage caused by potholes.
Watch out for warm-weather vehicles and pedestrians. As soon as the snow is gone – and maybe even before – you will see motorcyclists and bikers on the road in the spring. Be vigilant.
Consider your medications. If you take seasonal allergy medicine during the spring, be aware that it could affect your driving. Find out how you react to these medications before you get behind the wheel.
If you are injured in a car crash, contact a personal injury attorney right away for an evaluation of your case.