Fatal Truck Crashes Increasing in Hampton Roads Region
A report from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reveals an increase in deadly crashes involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles over the past year – even though overall crash fatalities have decreased. In fact, Hampton Roads in particular saw a staggering 75% increase in fatal truck crashes in 2022 as compared to 2021.
13NewsNow notes that, in 2022, 28 people died in truck accidents in the Hampton Roads region, as compared to 16 in 2021. Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Scarborough told the publication, “When you are dealing with a vehicle that can weigh up to sometimes 80,000 pounds, whenever those vehicles are involved in crashes, usually the result of those crashes is significant damage.”
An interesting factor the Virginia DMV found while analyzing their accident data was that the reporting police officer assigned the majority of “contributing actions” to these fatal accidents to the driver of the passenger car, rather than the driver of the commercial vehicle. This information only serves to highlight how important it is to understand how to drive defensively around big trucks.
Acting Commissioner Linda Ford, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative points out in the DMV’s press release, “Drivers of cars and other passenger vehicles must remember to respect the size and limitations of large commercial vehicles such as tractor trailers. These trucks simply can’t stop as quickly as a car can and they have big blindspots you should avoid.”
Virginia Trucking Association President Dale Bennett also tells 13NewsNow, “One lapse in attention can end up having tragic consequences, which is sad for all of us.”
However, it’s not just passenger vehicles that need to be safe on the road. Sgt. Scarborough notes that in November 2022, Operation Lane Shift went into effect, looking for traffic violations around commercial vehicles. Law enforcement cited nearly 400 passenger and commercial drivers for “making unsafe lane changes, following too close, speeding, reckless driving,” per Sgt. Scarborough.
The good news? Speeding-related deaths in Hampton Roads are down by over 30%, and drunk driving-related deaths are down by over 25 percent.
Driving safely around big trucks in Virginia
We can’t stress enough how important it is to know how to drive defensively and safely around commercial vehicles. In an accident with a big truck, the passenger vehicle is going to lose almost every time. Following are some tips for defensive and safe driving around large trucks and tractor-trailers:
- Stay out of the truck’s blind spots (the “no-zone”)
- Leave plenty of space when following a truck or when a truck is following you
- Avoid sudden lane changes or braking in front of a truck
- Use your turn signals and give plenty of warning before changing lanes or merging
- Watch out for wide turns and swings, as trucks may need to use more than one lane to make a turn
- Keep a safe distance when passing a truck, and make sure you can see the entire front of the truck in your rearview mirror before moving back into your lane
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck through no fault of your own, keep a few things in mind to protect the integrity of your case, as well as your physical health.
After a Richmond truck accident
If you or a loved one are in an accident with a tractor-trailer or big truck, keep the following in mind. It can help protect your rights to financial compensation later:
- Check for injuries. First, check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911 or the emergency services immediately.
- Call the police. Call the police to the scene, regardless of the extent of the property damage or the injuries. They will document the accident and create an official report.
- Exchange information. Exchange contact, insurance, and driver’s license information with the truck driver and any witnesses.
- Take pictures. Take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to both vehicles and any injuries.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you do not feel injured, it is important to seek medical attention after a truck accident to rule out any underlying injuries or conditions. Some injuries may not become apparent until later, so it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Notify your insurance company. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and let them know you were in an accident. Provide the basic information. Your attorney can take care of the rest.
- Contact a lawyer. Consider contacting a personal injury lawyer experienced in truck accidents to protect your legal rights and help you pursue compensation for your losses.
The attorneys at Phelan Petty have decades of experience with commercial truck accident claims, and a history of winning settlements and verdicts. Just some of our successes include:
- $1.1 million settlement in a tractor-trailer truck crash wrongful death case
- $875,000 settlement in a wrongful death claim from a truck crash
- $550,000 settlement for foot injuries resulting from a truck accident
Even if you are the safest driver in the state, you cannot avoid an accident with a careless or unsafe truck driver. If you end up involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, talk to the Richmond-based lawyers at Phelan Petty. Our years of experience give you the confidence you need through the legal process, and can help make things easier as you seek financial compensation for the injuries you sustained in your truck accident.
To set up a free initial consultation, call our offices today or fill out our contact form to talk about your case with a skilled attorney. Serving all of Virginia.
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Michael Phelan is a Virginia trial attorney who practices with a special focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, pharmaceutical and medical device claims, product liability cases, and truck accidents. Michael’s peers have consistently recognized him for his excellence as a trial lawyer, and his clients have praised him for his commitment to deep research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication.