Deadly truck accidents in California and around the country have increased worryingly over the last three years according to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency's chief safety officer said at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting that tractor-trailer occupant fatalities, work zone accidents involving commercial vehicles and truck and bus crash fatalities had all risen in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Some of these deaths could have been prevented by using turn signals, and many of the thousands of road users killed in commercial vehicle accidents each year may have survived had they been properly restrained. About 38 percent of the 841 tractor-trailer occupants who died in 2017 were not wearing their seat belts according to FMCSA figures. The agency's data also suggests that many work zone crashes occur when large trucks change lane without signaling.
The popularity of smartphones has led to a distracted driving epidemic in recent years, and hand-held electronic devices are one of the five most common causes of fatal tractor-trailer accidents. This is despite a federal law that prohibits their use by commercial vehicle drivers. In California, motorists commit a violation and can face sanctions just for holding a cellphone while behind the wheel.
Modern trucks are equipped with sophisticated electronics, and these systems often keep track of driver actions like turn signal use. Experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys pursuing legal remedies on behalf of truck accident victims would likely be aware of this, and they could seek to have the tractor-trailers involved inspected to access this data. Vehicle inspections could also reveal signs of shoddy repair work or worn or missing safety equipment that attorneys could use to convince juries that truck drivers or their employers acted negligently.
Source: The California Legislature, "Vehicle Code: Division 11- Rules of the Road", accessed on Feb. 17, 2019