An Arizona semi-truck accident recently left one person hospitalized and blocked traffic on Interstate 10 near Ray Road in Chandler. According to local news reports, a single unit box truck rolled over on top of a smaller car and blocked westbound traffic on Interstate 10 for several hours. The news report states that at least one person was trapped in their vehicle as a result of the crash, rescue crews were dispatched to the scene to release the smaller vehicle from under the large truck and extract the injured occupant, who was taken to the hospital by ambulance with undisclosed injuries. Local news reports do not mention the cause of the accident, but it is likely that the truck driver failed to maintain proper control of their vehicle, causing the truck to tip over onto the smaller car.

Accidents involving large commercial vehicles and semi-trucks result in hundreds of injuries and deaths on Arizona roads each year. According to the most recent statistics compiled by the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were 1044 injuries and 16 deaths on Arizona roads in accidents involving semi-trucks or other large commercial/industrial vehicles. Most of the injuries and deaths that occur in Arizona tractor-trailer accidents are suffered by occupants of smaller vehicles who are struck by a larger and more powerful truck. As a result, Arizona drivers should exercise caution when driving around semi-trucks and other large vehicles, as accidents involving trucks are especially dangerous.

Semi-truck accidents can be caused by a variety of factors that are not necessarily applicable to other vehicles. For example, semi-truck drivers are often paid by the mile. This compensation structure encourages truckers to drive as fast as possible, for as many hours as they can each day. State and federal regulations require commercial and industrial drivers to drive reasonable hours and get an adequate amount of rest between driving shifts, although some drivers fail to follow the regulations and drive fatigued as a result. Not surprisingly, fatigued driving is a major cause of Arizona truck accidents. Large trucks can also be more difficult to control and maneuver on roads that are designed primarily with smaller vehicles in mind. However, the responsibility to safely operate a truck always rests with the driver, regardless of the road conditions. If drivers are not adequately trained to operate the larger trucks properly, they may cause an accident resulting in serious injuries. Anyone injured in an accident with a semi-truck should seek out legal advice to protect their rights.

Last month a semi-truck heading through the Arizona and New Mexico state-line crossed into a median and flipped over. According to a local news report, the accident resulted in chain-reaction, and two additional semi-trucks crashed into the flipped truck. Tragically, several people suffered severe injuries, and one person died. Reports indicate that this accident is the third time in the past year that a semi-truck crossed into traffic on the New Mexico and Arizona state lines. Although, there are 17 miles of cable medians on the stretch between New Mexico and Arizona, this particular location does not have any protective medians.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that most recent data revealed that there were almost 35,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Additionally, there has been a steady increase in fatalities resulting from large truck collisions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reports that they found a 97% reduction in large truck collisions in states where there are cable barriers on the medians. These medians provide smaller cars with protection against accidents with semi-truck drivers.

Arizona truck accidents can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to drivers and their passengers. In response to the prevalence of truck drivers and the rising rate of trucking accidents, Arizona enacted several laws to protect both truck drivers and motorists. ARS 28-709 requires large, commercial truck drivers to maintain speeds under 65 mph. However, many truck drivers do not abide by this law because of the pressure to deliver their load as quickly as possible. Further, ARS 28-1095 provides that truck drivers cannot operate a trailer that is longer than 28 feet and six inches long. Some truck drivers ignore this law and will haul two or more trailers, exceeding the legal limit. Finally, ARS 28-958.01 mandates that semi-truck drivers have splash guards on their vehicles to help prevent the amount of water and rocks that can flip up. These laws are designed to protect all motorists, and truck drivers who do not abide by these laws and cause an accident may be held liable for their negligence.

Each year, there are many injuries and fatalities caused by Arizona underride trucking accidents. These extremely dangerous collisions occur when a passenger vehicle slides under the body of a tractor-trailer or “single-unit truck,” such as a delivery or dump truck. Due to the height difference between the vehicles, the car’s safety features are bypassed because the point of impact is not the front or rear bumper of the vehicle. Without these safety features to absorb the force of the collision, the passenger compartment can be crushed when it contacts the truck, potentially resulting in death or severe head and neck injuries for the occupants.

According to a recently released study by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), an increase in the standards for both rear and side underride guards could help to reduce the number of fatalities each year from underride crashes. According to an industry news source discussing the GAO study, there has been an average of about 220 deaths each year from underride crashes in the United States. Additionally, that figure is likely lower than the actual number of deaths because of inconsistent reporting requirements across jurisdictions. Although rear underride guards are required under federal and state laws, the GAO recommends strengthening the requirements and better enforcement of the laws that already exist.

If a driver or passenger is injured or killed in an Arizona underride crash with a tractor-trailer or single-unit truck that is not equipped with an underride guard that is compliant with state or federal law, the injured party may be entitled to damages from the operator of the truck or insurance company that covers the vehicle. Commercial drivers and other operators of large vehicles owe the public a duty of care to keep their vehicles up to date with required safety equipment, including underride guards. Failure to maintain a safe vehicle may result in the truck operator being found negligent as a matter of law, whether or not the driver of the truck was technically at-fault for the accident in question. Victims of underride crashes, or any other Arizona truck accidents, should consult with a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss their rights and protect their right to recover damages.

Sometimes, Arizona truck accidents can have serious implications beyond the two colliding vehicles involved. When two vehicles collide, the occupants of the vehicles are likely to be injured, but unfortunately, the crash could also cause a chain reaction and cause additional harm to a much larger group of people. All of the individuals injured, whether in the initial accident or the chain reactions caused by the crash, may be able to hold an at-fault party responsible through a civil lawsuit. Thus, drivers should be as careful as possible.

For an example of how a chain reaction accident can occur, take the serious crash that happened in Phoenix at the intersection of Seventh Street and Broadway Road earlier this month. According to a local news report covering the accident, a Chevrolet SUV and a semi-truck collided at the intersection early on the morning in question. While this crash would have been bad on its own, it also resulted in the semi-truck being pushed into another vehicle—a parked pickup truck. Then, the semi-truck’s fuel tank ruptured and leaked fuel all over the street.

Two incredibly dangerous things happened as a result of the first crash – the collision with the pickup truck and the spilling of the fuel. While the pickup truck was luckily unoccupied, it very well could have been occupied, causing major injuries or even death to the occupants. Additionally, the rupturing of the semi-truck’s fuel tank caused fuel to be spread all over the street, which is also very dangerous. Semi-trucks generally use diesel fuel, which is slick and can create traffic problems or even additional crashes on the road. Diesel fuel is also highly flammable and the fires are particularly difficult to put out, and so spilled fuel on the street is a serious fire hazard.

Truck accidents are common in Arizona. In fact, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, of the over 127,000 Arizona motor vehicle accidents that occurred in 2018, over 5 percent of them involved a large commercial truck or a bus. That amounts to over 13,500 accidents. In total, over 3,300 people were injured, and 118 killed in Arizona truck accidents for the year of 2018.

Given the valid concern involving semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles, lawmakers are taking steps to make the roads safer for those sharing the road with these large vehicles. According to a recent trucking industry news report, lawmakers are considering four bills that would significantly impact the trucking industry.

Perhaps the most important bill, H.R. 1511/S. 665, is known as the Stop Underrides Act. An underride accident involves a large truck and a smaller car. The main characteristic of this type of accident is that the smaller car slides underneath the truck, causing the roof of the vehicle to get crushed. Due to the nature of these accidents, they often result in severe or fatal injuries. The Stop Underrides Act would require “the installation of front, side, and rear underride guards on all trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) that exceeds 10,000 pounds.” An underride guard is a piece of steel that connects to the frame of the trailer and extends downward, preventing cars from sliding underneath the truck in the event of an accident. Currently, many trucks are required to have rear-underride guards installed; however, the trucking industry has been against additional requirements for front- and side-underride guards.

Earlier this month, two truck drivers were tragically killed in a fatal truck accident just north of Wickenburg, Arizona. According to a news report covering the tragic accident, the two drivers were both driving semi-trucks, but heading in opposite directions. Evidently, the southbound truck crossed over the center median, although it is not yet known why, and the two vehicles crashed head-on. Unfortunately, both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. Additionally, US-93, where the crash occurred, was closed for several hours in the aftermath of the accident.

While some accidents occur with no one to blame, far too many accidents happen as a result of distracted or fatigued driving. This is especially common with truck drivers, who have financial incentives to drive long distances each day, often with very little sleep beforehand. Because they are driving for such extended periods, boredom may cause them to check their phones, call or text loved ones, watch videos, or even play games. Unfortunately, even a few seconds of distracted driving can cause an accident. For example, a driver watching a video on his or her phone may accidentally veer across a median into oncoming traffic, causing a tragic accident like the one described above. Other times, a driver may become fatigued from their long hours and zone out or even nod off, causing them to crash.

While nothing can bring back a loved one after a tragic accident, Arizona law does allow the surviving family members of a deceased accident victim to sue the responsible party in a wrongful death suit. If successful, the family members may be able to receive monetary compensation to cover funeral and burial expenses, medical bills and emergency care from the accident, the value of lost wages the deceased would have earned, and the loss of companionship suffered by the loved one’s untimely death. When recovering from the untimely death of a loved one, however, it may be difficult for surviving family members to navigate the often complicated process of filing a wrongful death suit, especially while still in mourning. For this reason, potential plaintiffs are encouraged to contact a personal injury and wrongful death attorney who can help navigate the process and alleviate some of the pressure felt by the surviving family members.

Most motorists have had the unpleasant experience of driving behind a fully-load dump truck as it clumsily lumbers down the road. When loaded full of material or junk, dump trucks can weigh tens of thousands of pounds. As a result, drivers often have a difficult time coming to a complete stop and negotiating turns effectively. Additionally, dump trucks are heavy vehicles with enormous blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see other motorists. For these reasons, Arizona dump truck accidents are more common than most motorists realize.

Indeed, in 2016, the number of dump truck collisions increased by nine percent, to a total of 8,206. This figure only considers serious accidents that require at least one vehicle to be towed from the scene. Of these accidents, roughly 370 resulted in at least one fatality, either to the driver of the dump truck or to another person – motorist, pedestrian, or bicyclist – involved in the accident.

As a general matter, dump truck drivers owe those with whom they share the road a duty of care. This duty not only requires dump truck drivers to operate their vehicle safely and responsibly, but also obliges that they take care to safely load the truck and ensure that the load is secure. Indeed, unsecured cargo that bounces out of a dump truck is a major cause of Arizona dump truck accidents.

Truck drivers must spend countless hours on the road. To be sure, these long hours on the road can get monotonous. Boredom can lead to drowsiness, which may require a truck driver pull over. Because truck drivers are paid per mile, it is in their best interest to travel as far as possible each day. Thus, to help pass the time and stay awake, many truck drivers take prescription or illegal drugs. However, when truck drivers use drugs, they significantly increase the chance of causing an Arizona truck accident.

The most common type of drug consumed by truck drivers is marijuana. In part, this is probably because it is the driver’s preferred drug even while not behind the wheel. However, marijuana is also popular among truck drivers because it can have the effect of creating euphoria, which helps to pass the time. However, even within an hour after smoking or ingesting marijuana, the effects of the drug start to wane, leaving the driver drowsy.

According to a recent news report, Arizona is considering a ballot initiative that would legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Currently, marijuana is only legal for medicinal purposes. However, under the new law, any adult over the age of 21 could purchase the drug for recreational use. Of course, the law contains restrictions on where people can smoke marijuana, and the current prohibitions against intoxicated driving will remain. However, this raises the question of whether the legalization of marijuana will result in more truck drivers using the drug while behind the wheel.

With thousands of miles of highway connecting the west coast with the rest of the country, Arizona sees a disproportionate amount of semi-truck traffic. According to the most recent government statistics, in 2018 alone, there were over 12,500 Arizona truck accidents. This figure accounts for about 5% of all Arizona traffic accidents.

Nearly all truck accidents are preventable, with the exercise of due care. And while there are many causes of tractor-trailer accidents, some causes are more common than others. For example, the following are among the most common causes of Arizona semi-truck accidents.

Fatigue – Truck drivers have a financial incentive to travel as many miles as they can per day. Thus, many truck drivers spend long hours on the road, often with little to no sleep. While federal law requires truck drivers only drive a certain number of hours per day and take breaks at specified intervals, not all truck drivers obey these regulations.

Arizona is primarily a desert state, and has its share of unique weather phenomena. And while most Arizona drivers do not need to deal with slick or icy roads, sudden gusts of extreme wind are quite common. In fact, weather hazards are a major cause of Arizona car accidents, including wind-related accidents.

Wind-related car accidents are unique in that there often is little a motorist can do to foresee a sudden gust of wind. However, heavy winds often frequent the same locations, due to the topography the land, or the shape of the land. Thus, motorists should always remain vigilant when driving on Arizona highways, especially during times of high winds and other potentially hazardous weather conditions.

One night earlier this month was so windy that it caused several accidents. According to a local news report, the accidents all occurred on Interstate 10, between mileposts 83 and 84. Evidently, the winds were so strong that six semi-trucks and tractor-trailers rolled; two on the westbound side of the road, and four on the eastbound side of the road. Each of these crashes involved only a single truck; however, one of the truck drivers died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. Two others were injured, and the remaining drivers were uninjured.

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