Each year, all over the United States, a lot of innocent pedestrians and motorists become victims of commercial trucks that are either negligently driven or maintained improperly not to mention accidents caused by the design flaw of the commercial truck. Turning a huge, heavy 18-wheeler or stopping it is not a job for drivers with no experience in driving this type of rig. Sometimes, even truckers with hundreds of hours of experience driving these massive rigs still commit mistakes which sometimes lead to accident that can injure or worse, cause death.
On February 23, 2012, The Times-Picayune reported of the death of an 86 year old woman after an 18-wheeler collided with her car. According to Kansas State Police, the truck driver was allegedly attempting to make an improper U-turn in a curve on a highway in Kansas City area. According to reports, the driver of a Freightliner truck tried to reverse course while traveling east on U.S. 190 which is about one mile west of Kansas City. Even before the Freightliner was able to complete the U-turn, the car driven by the old lady entered the curve while the truck’s trailer was still positioned across the highway.
Kansas law strictly prohibits drivers from making a U-turn in a curve on a highway or above the crest of a hill because the vehicle, regardless of its size, is not visible to approaching motorists within 500 feet from either direction. Cases like these may end up with a negligent homicide conviction on the part of the driver making the illegal U-turn and may be sentenced with not more than five years imprisonment and be made to pay not more than $5,000. Because of the repercussion, drivers all over the country are being urged to pay attention and follow basic traffic safety laws because violating any of it often lead to majority of motor vehicle accidents.
The increase in number of road accidents in the country involving commercial trucks has called for United States Federal Government to ratify a number of road safety and traffic related regulations in an effort to employ tougher traffic policies and legislation to uphold safe driving practice among truck drivers all over the country. But just like in any accident related circumstances, legislation and policies on traffic rules and regulations and even that of the implemented federal bylaws cannot anticipate each and every facets of the situation. And for those who have been a victim of such accidents, hiring the services of lawyers specializing in truck accidents is important for a number of different reasons.
Among the most common scenarios of road accident with regards to commercial truck wrecks particularly when an 18-wheeler is involved is the U-turn type of traffic accident. In most part of the U.S., this is considered as a very serious offense and it can earn a much higher penalty compared to other traffic violations depending on the severity of the offense committed by the driver. Basically, offenders with long list of arrests involving the same M/O in their charge sheets often get the maximum penalty especially if he or she was not able to employ the services of qualified and highly experienced attorneys. Penalties may include imprisonment, suspension of driving privileges indefinitely, or a combination of both depending on the evaluation of the court. If the driver is found driving under the influence of alcohol or any other form of drugs that can significantly affect the capacity of the driver to operate a motorized vehicle properly resulting to such accident can be charged with a serious criminal offense because it is considered as a serious threat not only on the part of the one driving the vehicle but on the safety of the public as well.
If an 18-wheeler driver making U-turn and causing accident is caught by the authorities, it can either be a misdemeanor or a felony offense depending on the severity of the violation. More often than not, truck drivers caught on cases like these are not sure of whether they committed a misdemeanor or a felony simply because they are not aware of the law itself. This is one of the reasons why it is always important to have a team of highly skilled attorneys to help with the case and as much as possible prevent the client from getting a serious sentence.
Lawyers with understanding of the comprehensive truck law and other related legislation know fully well the dynamics of how big rigs and trucks reacts to different types of steering inputs made by its operator. Because 18-wheelers are long vehicles, the driver must know how to use special turning techniques so they can successfully negotiate even the most complex turns.