We all recognise there are dangers present whenever we travel by road. While most people never become involved in an accident, they do happen, and they can lead to nasty injuries or even fatalities. For example, 1,800 people died in road accidents during the year ending in June 2016, although numbers have dropped considerably since 2008. As you might expect, lorry accidents can be particularly dangerous because of the size of the vehicle, and its increased potential to cause greater damage to other vehicles.
So, what are the most common causes of lorry accidents? Let’s look at some of them so we know what might happen in such instances.
Tailgating occurs when a driver travels too close to the vehicle in front. According to research, more than half of motorists drive closer than they should do to the vehicle in front of them when on motorways. Men are also more likely to do this than women.
Since lorries are much bigger and heavier than cars and other vehicles, if a lorry driver decides to tailgate, they will be unable to stop in time if the vehicle in front stops suddenly. This means there is a greater risk of accidents, and it may well be the innocent driver in front who pays the price for this negligent driving behaviour.
High winds can make it more challenging for any driver or road user to stay safe. You are more likely to feel the effects of high winds if you are travelling on a bridge or other high road, or on a rural road where the land is open on either side, allowing the wind to come in at a lower level.
Lorry accidents are also more likely to occur if there are high winds. Any high-sided vehicle will be at greater risk of being blown over in a large gust of wind; indeed, this is something we have likely all seen on the news from time to time.
We all know speeding can be a factor when it comes to accidents on the roads, and that includes lorry accidents, too. Goods vehicles below 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight must adhere to 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single-lane carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways, and 70mph on motorways. However, HGVs and lorries that go over this laden weight are restricted to 60mph on motorways, although all other speed limits remain the same. Some drivers may potentially be tempted to exceed these speed limits, which could put their lives and the lives of other road users at risk.
Have you ever driven while tired? No one should do this, but lorry drivers drive for a living. They may be at potentially greater risk of driving while tired, and even if they do not fall asleep at the wheel, they could be tired and less attentive to the road than they should be.
Additionally, they could become complacent, travelling the same journeys regularly and assuming they know the roads and the potential dangers. Lorry accidents have sometimes occurred and been found to have been caused by driving tired. Thankfully, this is rare, but injuries have been sustained to innocent people involved in accidents caused in this manner.
Uneven loading of the vehicle
Lorries carry all kinds of loads, and that means it is vital to ensure the lorry is always loaded evenly and safely. If too much weight is loaded onto one side of the lorry, it is more likely to topple over if it takes a corner too fast, or travels over uneven or sloping ground. This could mean there is a risk of it falling onto another vehicle, or even onto a pedestrian.
With 1.76 billion tonnes of goods lifted by British HGVs in the year to September 2016 alone, it is easy to see how lorry accidents could potentially occur if this point isn’t focused on.
Poor vehicle maintenance
All vehicles should be regularly maintained to ensure they are safe to drive. This applies to lorries just as it does to cars. If an accident occurs and a lorry is found to be defective, charges could potentially be made against the driver or the employer. Poor brakes, defective or worn tyres, and other issues could all lead to an accident.
The casualty rate among drivers of lorries and other large vehicles is among the lowest for all road users. For example, just 76 drivers were injured per billion passenger miles in 2014. If we compare this to motorcyclists, who are the most vulnerable road users, we can see they were at much greater risk, with 6,676 casualties per billion miles.
Have you been injured in an accident caused by a lorry driver?
Lorry accidents can potentially be caused in many ways, as we have seen here. It is sobering to realise that even if you are a safe driver, and you observe all the rules in the Highway Code, and do everything you can to be safe, you may still be caught in an accident caused by someone else.
Has this happened to you already? Were you in an accident and you suspect a lorry driver might have been at fault? While your priority will be to get medical attention for your injuries, you should also make sure you speak to someone at Accident Advice Helpline to find out whether you might be able to make a compensation claim. Injuries caused in a road accident can range from mild whiplash to loss of blood, broken bones, spinal and head injuries, and other life-threatening or life-altering injuries, too.
Learn more about lorry accidents today
To learn more about the possibility of claiming, call us today on 0800 689 0500, or ring 0333 500 0993 from your mobile phone. Our team of experienced advisors is standing by to offer no-obligation advice on the chance of making a no-win, no-fee* claim. This is how our personal injury lawyers work when handling all the claims they accept from our clients.