Head-on collisions, where two vehicles crash with their front-ends, often involve a great deal more damage than other types of accidents. In a head-on collision, the speed of both vehicles coming to a point magnifies the force of the impact such that it makes life-altering injuries and even death much more likely.
During a head-on truck collision, the risks go up even more, particularly for occupants of smaller vehicles. The greater weight of big trucks not only means they deliver a bigger punch in a collision but also that they need a greater distance to slow down, making it more difficult to evade an imminent head-on collision. To a big truck, a passenger vehicle in a head-on collision might barely slow them down. After a head-on truck collision in Albany, you need to know how you can recover compensation for your injuries and impacts. Contact an experienced Albany truck accident injury attorney and read below for more information about head-on collisions in Albany.
Causes of Albany Head-On Truck Collisions
Head-on truck collisions in Albany are likely to result from severe driver error. For instance, head-on collisions may occur because a driver becomes distracted or impaired and loses control of their vehicle. Head-on collisions may also result from circumstances outside the driver’s control.
#1. Driver distraction
Truck drivers coming through Albany often spend long hours on the road every day. Federal law limits truck drivers to 11 hours of a 14-hour shift behind the wheel. Even with this limit, though, a truck driver has plenty of chances to lose attention and cause an accident.
Some drivers may become distracted trying to eat or drink behind the wheel, especially if they need to make up for lost time after getting caught in Albany’s often tight traffic. Other drivers may choose to engage in a range of distracting behaviors, such as texting and driving, as they struggle with boredom while they move toward their destinations.
Distracted driving, however, means that the truck driver does not have their full attention on the road and their surroundings. The longer a driver’s attention shifts away from the road, the greater the likelihood of wandering outside of the lane or failing to notice oncoming obstacles. On an undivided road, a distracted truck driver may unknowingly slide into the opposite lane of traffic, causing a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle. They might not even notice the head-on collision course until the last second.
A distracted driver may also miss signs and head down a road going the wrong way, which may raise the risk of a head-on collision. Upper State Street, for example, only travels east. A westbound truck that turns onto that road, not realizing it is a one-way, might end up in a head-on collision scenario too quickly to evade it. Even if the truck driver recognizes their mistake and tries to maneuver out of the area, they may still have a hard time turning their vehicle around without causing an accident.
Due to the congestion that Albany experiences many times of the day, truck drivers may try speeding to get out of congestion to make up time in getting to their destinations. For some truck drivers, the worst scenario is ending up stuck in traffic and running out the clock on their 11-hour limit before they can reach their destination.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the worst-case scenario, as head-on collisions caused by speeding demonstrate. High rates of speed greatly heighten the risk of accidents and typically worsen the severity of injuries in the event of an accident.
A speeding truck driver may have a hard time controlling their vehicle at all. A truck driver has to react much more quickly to stop or evade a collision than a normal passenger vehicle operator. Sometimes, speeding truck drivers allow their focus and attention to slip while speeding or may miss a maneuver, causing the truck to slip into an oncoming lane of traffic and causing serious head-on accident injuries.
#3. Driver fatigue
It is, unfortunately, taken for granted that truck drivers struggle with fatigue. Road haze, caused by spending long hours each day behind the wheel, may set in more easily for some than others. Truck drivers are often sleep-deprived and may become drowsy behind the wheel. Truck drivers often have long hauls that take them away from home. They may sleep in unfamiliar locations, and often sleep inside their cabs, which can make it hard for them to get a good night’s rest.
Since they cannot catch up with friends and family members while on the road, they may do that after work hours, which may cut into time off from work that they have to sleep. Driving for eleven hours a day alone can prove exhausting, particularly for new drivers or those who have underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to weariness.
Fatigued driving, however, poses more danger than many drivers realize. Fatigued drivers exhibit many of the same symptoms as inebriated drivers, including difficulty controlling their vehicles safely. They may also engage in microsleeps: brief periods during which they fall asleep, then jerk back awake again. Some drivers may not even realize that they have fallen asleep for that brief time, especially if they wake within a mere few seconds. Others may even simply fall asleep behind the wheel.
During those periods of sleep, truck drivers have no control over their vehicles. The truck driver’s foot may keep pressing down on the gas as they release control over the wheel and the direction of the truck. As a result, the truck can move forward in virtually any direction, including head-on with cross-traffic.
#4. Inclement weather
Albany averages more than 52 inches of snow per year and gets about 40 inches of rain. While Albany drivers get used to those weather conditions and the City of Albany keeps snow and ice off the roads as much as possible, those weather conditions inevitably create hazardous conditions, especially slick roads, for drivers at some point. Truck drivers may lack the experience they need to keep their vehicles safely on the road if they start to slide. This is a greater concern due to the truck driver shortage, which has led many trucking companies to hire less-experienced drivers to keep their cargo moving. Others may simply be taken by surprise as they encounter black ice and the tires of the truck slide out of control.
As the truck slides, it may take a great deal of skill to bring it back under the driver’s control. A sliding truck can quickly slide out of its own lane, resulting in a head-on collision with oncoming traffic. If truck drivers fail to slow down to account for those weather conditions, it can also raise the risk of more serious accident injuries and death in the event of a head-on collision.
#5. Ignoring traffic signals
Traffic signals, including stop signs and red lights, exist to help drivers safely navigate through intersections. All drivers, including the drivers of big trucks, need to exercise care around intersections and follow those signals so they can move through safely. Unfortunately, some truck drivers ignore traffic signals, often in a rush to make a delivery. A vehicle stopped on the other side of the intersection poised to make a left turn may proceed accordingly with a green arrow turn signal before they notice the truck has jumped the gun, potentially leading to a head-on collision.
What Happens During a Head-On Collision with a Truck?
During a head-on collision, the big truck strikes another vehicle coming toward it in the front. Often, the vehicles do not hit dead center, but rather off to one side of their fronts. The immediate force of the collision throws the occupants forward rapidly, usually into the seatbelt or some area inside the car, which will jolt them abruptly backward. This back-and-forth motion, as well as the force with which the occupant hits the inside of the vehicle, can cause serious neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries. It can also cause severe bruising, especially around the steering wheel or the seatbelt. The sequence of events may also include the following, which contribute to any injuries sustained.
The Airbag Deploys
In most head-on collisions, the airbag will deploy quickly. Airbags help reduce some of the force of the accident and can save lives. However, they can also cause injuries of their own. During a head-on collision, you may slam into the steering wheel or dashboard as the airbag deploys. Sometimes, the airbag can break bones, especially in the face. If the airbag strikes the chest, it can also lead to broken ribs or severe bruising. In some cases, the force of the airbag may result in serious internal injuries or even spinal cord injuries.
The Cabin Crumbles
Because of the truck’s immense mass, the force of a head-on collision can cause the cabin to crumple around the passengers. The force of the collision and that crumbling structure can lead to severely broken bones, crushing damage, and even amputation. Sometimes, first responders may have to cut a vehicle occupant out of the vehicle because the frame has crumbled in around them. The windshield will likely shatter. Even with shatter-resistant glass used in most modern windshields, that glass can still break, leading to severe lacerations. You may also suffer lacerations from sharp metal left over from the collision.
The Truck May Keep Moving Forward
In a high-speed head-on collision with a truck, the truck may keep pushing forward for several seconds after the collision. This may mean even more severe damage to the other driver’s vehicle and, in many cases, much more severe injury to the passengers. In some cases, the truck can even push the car into the vehicle behind it, especially on high-speed roads. The force of a second collision can lead to additional injuries and trauma for vehicle occupants.
Head-on truck collisions frequently result in severe injury for all vehicle occupants. A truck naturally sits higher on the road and has a great deal of mass behind it. In a head-on collision, that can prove devastating for the occupants of a smaller passenger vehicle. Following a head-on collision, always seek medical attention immediately, even if immediately after the accident you do not believe you sustained severe injuries.
Often, victims have injuries they did not realize they sustained, and failure to seek medical attention could worsen those injuries. In many cases, however, the occupants of a passenger vehicle may not have a choice about seeking medical attention after a head-on truck collision, since the collision may cause such severe injuries that they require emergency medical care.
Did You Suffer Serious Injuries in an Albany Head-On Truck Collision?
If you suffered serious injuries in a head-on collision with a truck in Albany, you may need legal assistance and support to help you secure the compensation you deserve. Do not wait or try to handle your claim on your own, since that could minimize the compensation you ultimately recover. Instead, contact an experienced Albany truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to schedule a free consultation.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.