Commercial Truck Accidents & Procedures
What happens when a truck driver has an accident depends largely on how the accident occurred. It’s inevitable that a traffic mishap will happen at some point in a professional truck driver’s life. According to the American Trucking Association, there were 3.36 million truck drivers in the U.S. in 2020. Unfortunately, there are nearly 500,000 truck-related accidents each year and nearly 5,000 accident-related deaths. This means that roughly 1 in 7 drivers will have an accident in a given year.
If found at fault, drivers may be disciplined but still be able to keep their contracts or jobs, or in very serious cases, they may be terminated. Whether you’re an owner-operator or a professional trucker, familiarizing yourself with the correct accident procedures for drivers and knowing how to protect yourself and your livelihood is crucial.
Do Truck Drivers Get Fired for Accidents?
Yes, truck drivers can be fired after an accident when it’s mostly or fully their fault, if major damage occurred, or if people were injured. If a driver works for a company, the company that owns the vehicle and employs the driver can be held responsible for the driver’s actions. There are many scenarios that can cause a truck driver to have an accident, but whether or not they were at fault can ultimately determine if a contract is terminated.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur?
While negligent truck maintenance and driver error can lead to commercial truck accidents, the actions of other drivers on the road are also a major contributor. The aftermath of an accident with a truck can be devastating to both the trucker and any impacted passenger vehicle. If an accident does occur because of another driver’s error, being able to prove your side of the story as a professional driver is crucial, regardless of whether you’re an owner-operator or a fleet manager filing insurance claims.
How to Protect Yourself as a Professional Truck Driver
Proving Innocence - One way truckers can protect themselves on the job is to have a continuously-recording dash cam. Dash cams can capture the road ahead or even inside the cabin, to see how an accident unfolds. Instead of relying on a he-said-she-said scenario, police, employers, and insurance providers can view footage to determine causality, making dash cam footage a reliable way to prove innocence.
Get Back to Work Faster - If an accident does occur, being able to present your position to roadside authorities on the spot with dash cam footage can help have the accident reported in your favor. Smart dash cams that are connected to apps like Drive Smarter means that you’ll be able to quickly review video footage from your phone. This can be particularly helpful when determining who is liable for a truck accident and can help drivers get back on the road faster.
Demonstrating Strong Driving Habits - By having an in-cabin view, drivers can prove that an accident wasn’t due to their lack of alertness. Fatigue is common amongst drivers, especially when there’s a shortage of professional truckers and drivers are allowed up to 11 hours of continuous driving in a 14-hour window. Having a camera inside the truck can not only show that the driver is aware and alert, but may also encourage safer practices as drivers know they’re being recorded.
Filing Claims Accurately & in a Timely Manner - Smart dash cams can streamline filing an insurance claim. Preformatted incident reports and a formatted video can help you provide the necessary evidence to an insurance provider, employer, or legal professional. Since some insurers have time limits in place for submissions, time is of the essence. If you don't submit claims and necessary documents within your insurer's time limit, you may not be eligible for compensation for vehicle damage or personal injuries.
Why Dash Cams Are Important Now More Than Ever
With the rise in aggressive driving and the lack of respect on the road that truckers sometimes receive, professional truckers need additional protection. The benefits of a truck dash cam with a forward-facing view means truckers can share their side of a story when others are at fault. A dash cam can capture whether another vehicle caused a commercial truck accident and if that was a result of their negligent driving habits or a case of road rage.
In pre-pandemic times, the number of 18 wheelers involved in crashes had increased despite a general decrease in motor vehicle accidents. However, this statistic has changed in recent times as road traffic accidents increased dramatically during the pandemic. Although traffic experts expected that emptier roads during the pandemic would cause accidents to decline, an increase in aggressive driving ended up closing the gap, causing vehicle deaths to surge 12% between 2020 and 2021. Harrowing statistics like these are important for truckers to be aware of as they’re most at risk of feeling the results with so many hours spent on the road.
Owner-operators and fleet managers who want protection in case of commercial trucking accidents can invest in a range of smart dash cam options. The Cobra for Business program offers benefits and discounts to employers who want to equip their fleet with power inverters, CB radios, or smart dash cams. For drivers themselves, the one-time purchase of a dash cam is minimal in comparison to the potential loss experienced after an accident.