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Truck Accidents: Driving at Night
Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia Truck Accident Attorneys
Night driving can be more difficult and more dangerous for anyone on the road. Driving at night poses some special risks for large commercial trucks and the vehicles nearby. The main problems associated with night driving and big rigs are fatigue and visibility - both the truck driver's ability to see other vehicles and other drivers' ability to see the truck.
Night driving and fatigue
Hours of service regulations (HOS) govern how many hours a truck driver may be on the road in one stretch. They do not determine what time of day a trucker may be on the road. In fact, the nature of HOS can mean that drivers are forced to drive at night and on a very irregular schedule. Fatigue is a common problem for truck drivers and the most common contributing factor in trucking accidents.
Driving at night increases fatigue for many reasons:
- Stress cause by poor visibility
- Interference with normal sleeping patterns (circadian rhythm)
- Lowered visual acuity
Driving at night lowers visibility, even in clear weather. Just a few factors that reduce visibility when driving at night include:
- Area of vision reduced to headlight beams
- More difficult to gauge the speed of other vehicles
- Increased glare
Semi tractor trailer trucks need significantly more stopping distance than passenger vehicles. They simply cannot make sudden stops. Since driving at night makes it very difficult to gauge the speed of other vehicles, truck drivers cannot always determine ahead of time that the vehicle they are approaching is traveling very slow or even stopped in the road.
Truck drivers are not the only ones who have difficulty seeing to drive. The visibility problem works both ways. Even when other drivers see the truck, they do not always see the entire trailer. This can lead to an underride accident, the most gruesome and deadly type of truck vs. car collision.
Underride accidents can be prevented with adequate lighting and reflectors which make it possible to see the entire profile of the truck and help other drivers properly ascertain their distance. Partial lighting can be misleading, giving the illusion that the truck is farther away. Dirty lights and reflectors can be obscured from view, making the truck appear shorter in length than it really is, and causing drivers to hit the truck from the rear or change lanes, hitting the truck from the side.
Truck drivers are required to use extra caution at night and to inspect their trucks, including the safety equipment, before getting on the road to prevent truck accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a trucking accident in Maryland, Virginia or Washington DC, please contact the Maryland truck accident attorneys at Chaikin Sherman Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. today. We have the knowledge and experience to help you when special circumstances, such as night driving, contributed to your accident.