Attorney Jim Dodson has successfully represented hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians in personal injury claims over the last 25 years and that comes as no surprise as across the U.S. cyclist fatalities have risen by 25 percent over the last decade, far outpacing population growth in urban areas. If you have been injured Jim has your back. During the same period box trucks, utility vehicles, SUVs and cars have been designed with safety as a high priority, producing impressive results in terms of falling accident and casualty rates. But traffic deaths happening “outside the vehicle” have increased from 20 to 34 percent. One factor contributing to this phenomenon is the higher number of people biking to work—a practice intended to reduce traffic, improve air quality, and make people healthier. But roads and main city arteries are still filled with fast-moving passenger and commercial traffic.
Causes of Box Truck Accidents Involving Cyclists
Of great concern is the rising number of accidents involving “light” (under 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight) trucks and cyclists. While a typical mid-size vehicle is 6-6.5 feet wide and 15-16 feet long, trucks involved in delivery, maintenance, construction, and garbage pickup services average 8.5 wide and anywhere from 29-50 feet long. Trucks with higher hoods and heavier loads can create immense damage on impact. Thus, truck-bicycle accidents are one of the most serious types of events a cyclist can experience, while the truck driver is usually not physically injured. According to NHTSA data, when cyclists are killed in collisions with light trucks, SUVs, pick-up vehicles, or vans, 83 percent of them are hit from the front.
Where trucks make turns (regardless of bike lanes), a cyclist can get swept under the truck cargo and become trapped between the wheels. Trucks can hit cyclists from behind, from the side, or while turning. Because of size, commercial trucks, garbage trucks, and tractor-trailers are a great threat to cyclists, especially near urban intersections where safe maneuvering is of key importance. Recent studies have shown that by equipping truck fleets with relatively inexpensive side guards and mirrors, cyclist injuries can be reduced by roughly 15 percent and cyclist fatalities by 60 percent.
Many bike lanes only extend for short distances in metro areas. Sharing the road is even more problematic for professional truck drivers who are likely to be on tight schedules to make deliveries late at night (when stores typically stock shelves) and in the early morning hours when visibility is reduced. Fatigue from driving too many hours without a break may also lead to driver impairment.
Speed is another factor. Trucks are often moving too fast to identify and respond to cyclists. And, because of heavy loads, their braking time is longer. Despite safety improvements in truck design and manufacture in recent years, blind spots remain a problem. Because trucks are heavy-weight vehicles, drivers must have enhanced skills and undergo proper training. Carriers need to adhere to strict maintenance schedules and quality control. Unsecured loads, such as furniture or construction equipment, present another cyclist hazard. Bad weather, dangerous road conditions, distracted driving, problematic construction zones, following too closely, failure to signal or yield or to keep safe passing distances are all factors that can add to injuries and deaths resulting from truck-cyclist collisions.
How to Prevent Box Truck & Delivery Truck Accidents
Certain categories of CDL (commercial driver’s license) drivers are regulated by the Florida Motor Carrier statutes that place specific requirements relating to qualifications, hours, reporting, health, safety regulations, drugs and alcohol, annual physicals, and training. Consistent and strict adherence to and enforcement of these protective measures is the other half of the overall road safety equation.
Heavy and light trucks, be they delivery, garbage, towing, ambulance, or other service-related vehicles, are an integral and invaluable component of our rural and urban economies. Manufacturers, however, could make many of them safer by reducing the height of front bumpers and adding protective side guards. And cities need to create a healthier environment for cyclists by lowering speed limits, inserting designated loading zones, removing visibility obstacles, increasing construction of buffered/protected bike lanes, and requiring improved driving education for all users. Most importantly, truckers and cyclists need to learn how not only to tolerate one another but to cooperate, share space, and interact safely.
Do You Have a Bicycle Injury from a Box Truck Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Florida cycling crash you should speak with Jim Dodson, an experienced bicycle injury attorney who has been successfully representing injured cyclists like you for over 25 years. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727-446-0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.