Truckers Driving Dangerously: Unsafe Lane Changes


April 20, 2018 / Truck Accidents

While the vast majority of large truck drivers exercise proper attention when it’s time to move into another lane, a few bad apples drive more dangerously, resulting in injuries and deaths for innocent victims. Abrupt lane changes by large commercial vehicles create havoc. The trailer that’s part of a semi often extends to 53 feet, and, in some cases, even longer. Such a vehicle takes up a lot of space on the road, making lane changes a matter requiring much care and attention to blind spots.

Stephenson Rife handled a case that occurred on US 150 in Southern Indiana, a semi turned sharply left, in the left turn lane, causing its load of steel I-beams to move into the adjoining lane of traffic.  The vehicle passing in the right had no chance to avoid the beams resulting in a crash that took the life of the driver and critically injured the front seat passenger. Mike Stephenson and Brady Rife were able to help this family resolve a claim against the semi driver and others responsible.

In late September, 2017, in the Chicago area, an I-80 crash resulted in the deaths of two FedEx drivers because of a semi trucker’s erratic lane-changing behavior. He was cited for this behavior and for speeding. In Germantown, Maryland, during March, 2018, a tractor-trailer’s sudden lane change on I-270 was responsible for an 18-vehicle crash that left four injured, two seriously. In all, more than 24 people had to receive medical attention at the scene. The truck driver who caused the pileup got away.

These are only examples of tragic situations caused by Semi drivers improperly changing lanes. The attorneys at Stephenson Rife have handled many truck accident cases across the United States and are prepared to investigate yours.

Not an Uncommon Reason for Accidents

About one in nine passenger vehicle accidents are the result of hasty, risky lane changes. You might expect that professional truck drivers would cause a lower percentage of crashes, but that’s not the case. In a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 32 percent of accident-causing lane changes involved commercial large trucks. Annually, that’s roughly 10,000 crashes caused by unsafe lane changes on the part of large trucks.

Why Do Unsafe Lane Changes Occur?

Truck drivers have a legal responsibility to drive safely, sanely, and soberly. Those who are aggressive, erratic, or distracted while behind the wheel can cause unsafe lane changes. Sometimes it is the pressure of deadlines for delivering a load that causes unsafe driving. Sometimes the reason is sheer carelessness. Trucks have enormous blind spots, and not checking and rechecking before a driver changes lanes can result in tragedy.

Some of the reasons that truckers can trigger collisions by making unsafe lane changes are:

  • Changing lanes at high speeds
  • Changing lanes at intersections
  • Not signaling lane changes
  • Not yielding when attempting to change lanes (cutting off other drivers)
  • Not checking blind spots
  • Misjudging distances
  • Weaving
  • Driver incapacitation (driving while under the influence or drowsy).

Pinning Hopes on Technology

A number of passenger vehicles already have “active lane-keeping assist,” which warns drivers whenever they move out of their lane, potentially causing a crash. Large trucks have something in the works that is called both “automated steering” and “active steering.” The expectation is that the technology will become available in commercial vehicles by 2020. The technological advances include both lane-keeping and lane-centering capabilities. While it will cost truck fleets additional money, it will prevent unsafe lane departures that are the reason for numerous injuries, deaths, and millions of dollars of damage.

When truck drivers fail to live up to their responsibilities with regard to others on the road, the safety of others is impacted. Negligence can be cited if a trucker drove more hours than allowed by regulations, or was intoxicated or drowsy, and a crash ensued. After a serious collision, the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney can help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the burdens of overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, we suggest you talk with the Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Stephenson Rife. Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, will commit the highest standards of client care to your case. Call Mike or Brady today for a free consultation, or use our confidential online contact form.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike StephensonMike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, and fire, just to name a few. He also works extensively in construction accidents. [ Attorney Bio ]

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