When your car breaks down at the side of the road or you have an accident that requires that your car get towed away from the scene, seeing a tow truck can bring an immense sense of relief. Sharing the road with tow trucks, on the other hand, may create an entirely different response. Tow trucks throughout the Syracuse area can help stranded drivers and get them out of the road, especially in bad weather, but they may also increase the risk of some types of accidents.
Syracuse Tow Trucks Spend a Lot of Time on the Road in Bad Weather
It comes as little surprise to most Syracuse residents that Syracuse has a higher-than-normal number of bad weather days each year. Not only does Syracuse see an estimated 104 inches of snow per year compared to the United States average of just 28 inches per year Syracuse also sees just 163 sunny days per year, which means a lot of days of snow, ice, rain, and fog.
Bad weather conditions can increase the risk of car accidents for any driver in any vehicle. In snow and ice, drivers may have a much harder time keeping their vehicles safely on the road, especially before snowplows have a chance to come through. Rain and snow can also significantly decrease visibility, which may make it much harder for Syracuse tow trucks to see the other vehicles around them.
Due to that poor visibility, tow trucks may cause serious accidents and the extra weight of the tow truck, particularly when combined with the vehicle it has to haul, can lead to more serious injuries in an accident.
During those bad weather conditions, however, tow trucks hit the road more than ever as they head out to rescue stranded vehicles and their drivers. Often, tow truck drivers end up working longer hours in bad weather conditions than they would under other circumstances, since they may have more wrecks, in general, that require their response.
Syracuse’s Narrow Streets Can Spell Trouble for Tow Truck Drivers
Many areas of Syracuse include tight, narrow streets, where it can be very difficult for a driver to move safely through. Tow truck drivers may face even more hazards as they navigate those areas. Tow trucks often need more room to maneuver than the average vehicle. They need to get around the vehicle they need to tow, hook it up, and safely pull it back onto the road or out of the area it got stuck in, especially when a car ends up in a ditch or another unsafe location. Unfortunately, the narrow streets of Syracuse can make it much more difficult for tow truck drivers to safely navigate as needed in those areas.
The tight streets of Syracuse can also spell additional trouble as tow truck drivers try to navigate turns. Tow trucks, like other big trucks, often manage wide right turns, rather than turning tight. Tow trucks may need more room to maneuver, depending on the size of the vehicle they need to tow. Unfortunately, that wider turning radius can mean that a tow truck crosses over into another lane of traffic unexpectedly.
Tow Trucks Have to Respond to Accidents at the Most Dangerous Intersections in Syracuse
If you know that I-81 often snarls during rush hour or that the intersection with I-690 sees regular accidents, you might choose to avoid those stretches of road whenever possible, especially during the busiest times of the day. Tow truck drivers, however, have no such options. When accidents occur in those areas, they have to head out to bring back the vehicles that have suffered damage in those areas.
Unfortunately, traffic often does not slow down to account for the presence of a tow truck. While police officers directing traffic at the scene of an accident can help slow things down and decrease the risk of an accident, as tow truck drivers hurry to hitch up the damaged vehicle and get it away from the scene of the accident, another accident may occur.
Tow truck drivers must also respond in dangerous areas, including pulling cars out of ditches. A mistake on the part of the tow truck driver could send the tow truck plummeting into the ditch, down a hill, or rolling over just like the vehicles it originally arrived to rescue. In wet, muddy weather, all too common in some areas of Syracuse, a tow truck’s greater weight can even cause it to sink into the mud, making it very difficult to get it out.
Tow Truck Drivers May Not Fully Secure the Towed Vehicle, Resulting in Severe Accidents
Tow trucks come in several forms and may secure cars in multiple different ways as they hook them up to tow them out of the area. However, they all have one thing in common: they require the tow truck to secure the other vehicle in some way. Failure to properly secure the towed vehicle can result in the car slipping off the back of the tow truck, which may cause that car to fall into another vehicle. If the car lands on the road, as it might with a traditional hook and winch tow truck, it could end up moving uncontrolled on the road, not stopping until it collides with another vehicle.
Tow truck drivers bear a strong responsibility for ensuring that they properly secure the towed vehicle before they head out for their destinations. In some cases, however, tow truck drivers may not pay as much attention to that task as they should, which can result in severe accidents throughout the Syracuse area.
Tow Truck Drivers May Struggle with Distraction
Like any other driver out on the road, tow truck drivers can struggle with immense levels of distraction. Some tow truck drivers may engage in activities other than driving while behind the wheel. They may, for example, try to grab a meal, especially during a busy shift, or simply change the station on the radio as they drive down the road. Other distractions may come along with the job.
Many tow truck drivers in Syracuse rely on GPS devices to get them quickly to the scene of an accident, especially if the accident occurs in an area they do not automatically recognize when the call comes in. Other times, they may focus on trying to locate the accident or the stranded vehicle, rather than watching the road around them and keeping up with other vehicles. That distraction, however, can prove extremely dangerous.
Distracted drivers pose a substantial risk to everyone around them. Distraction can increase the time needed to respond to a potential emergency, which may significantly raise the risk of a collision. Distracted drivers also have a hard time noting what happens around them on the road, which may result in those drivers causing a serious accident before they have a chance to notice the hazard. Unfortunately, tow truck drivers all too often fail to take necessary steps to protect the other drivers around them on the road, including keeping their attention locked on the road while driving.
Tow Trucks Weigh a Great Deal More Than Passenger Vehicles
Tow trucks need a lot of mass and a lot of towing power to successfully move large vehicles when they get stuck, stranded, or damaged in some way that prevents them from running effectively. As a result, tow trucks usually have a great deal more mass than the average passenger vehicle. In a collision, that can mean substantial injury for the passengers in the other vehicle.
Most passenger vehicles do not have the solid construction needed to withstand the force of a tow truck accident. If a tow truck driver causes an accident, it can result in more serious injury than the passengers in the other vehicle would have suffered in a similar collision with another passenger vehicle.
Inebriated Tow Truck Drivers Can Raise the Risks to Everyone Around Them
Driver inebriation can raise the risk of many types of accidents, including standard passenger vehicle accidents. Inebriated drivers often have a hard time controlling their vehicles and may mistakenly cause an accident as they try to navigate on the road. Inebriation can also slow reaction times, making it impossible for the driver to avoid a potential collision in time.
While most tow truck drivers may do their best to remain sober behind the wheel, sometimes, inebriated drivers head out to pick up the latest stranded vehicle. The tow truck driver may have just sat down with a meal containing alcohol when the call came in, or they might have decided to drink while waiting for their shift to end. Unfortunately, operating such a large vehicle while inebriated can raise the risks associated with the accident, cause more serious injuries, and leave devastation in its wake.
Tow Truck Drivers May Struggle with Increased Levels of Fatigue
Due to the poor weather conditions often facing Syracuse, tow truck drivers may have many days when they have to spend a lot of time out on the road, rescuing stranded vehicles. That can mean long hours and, eventually, driver exhaustion. Sometimes, however, towing companies may not allow their drivers to pull off the road or take time off, especially when they have a large number of people who need their services.
Fatigued drivers, however, may not give their best to their job. Fatigued tow truck drivers may be more likely to fail to secure the towed vehicle properly or have trouble keeping their attention on the road. Fatigue can cause many of the same symptoms in many drivers as inebriation, which may mean that the driver has a much higher risk of causing an accident.
Worse, fatigued drivers are more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. Sometimes, they fall asleep for only moments: “microsleeps” that end with them jerking to awareness, often with a sense of dread related to what could have happened that helps keep them awake as they navigate the rest of the shift. Other times, however, drivers may fall asleep completely, which means that the tow truck has no one to control it. Not only does that mean that the large tow truck itself remains out of the control of any driver, it means that the vehicle behind it also remains out of control.
Tow Trucks Often Have Large Blind Spots
The average big truck has massive blind spots, into which a smaller passenger vehicle can completely disappear. Most big truck drivers remain aware of those blind spots at all times and take steps to avoid collisions with vehicles in those blind spots, and tow truck drivers do the same. However, tow trucks come with an added disadvantage: drivers do not always know the full size of the blind spot and how it may impact their ability to navigate safely.
Tow trucks, when fully loaded, may have different areas that offer visibility challenges depending on the vehicle they have to tow. A larger vehicle could take up more space behind the tow truck or cause a greater block in the visual field, creating a larger blind spot and a greater challenge that the tow truck driver must navigate. Unfortunately, these blind spots can be very difficult to predict and practice, since they may change based on what the tow truck driver needs to pull at any given time.
Not only do large blind spots make it more difficult for big truck drivers to avoid collisions, but the nature of tow trucks and the cargo they have to haul can also increase accident risk as they travel the roads.
Did you suffer injuries in a tow truck accident in Syracuse? You may need a truck accident attorney to help you learn more about your right to compensation and navigate your claim. Contact a lawyer after your tow truck accident for 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.