With Hanjin, Hapag-Lloyd, and Westwood Shipping Lines officially out of the Port, thousands more trucks are on Oregon roads. Interstates 5 and 84 house some major hotspots where collisions with trucks are more likely to occur. The rate of traffic accidents involving trucks has only climbed since the Port’s container terminal lost almost all its business.
Truck Accidents in Oregon Surge
US transport carries an estimated 50 million tons of cargo every day, according to 2010 numbers released by the US Department of Transportation. All that cargo is carried by rail, water, air, and above all, trucks. Nearly 70% of those fifty million tons per day is transported on heavy trucks, which are allowed to carry a maximum of 80,000 pounds a piece without a special permit.
Big rigs, semi trucks, 18-wheelers, and tractor trailers are all terms to describe vehicles that can legally transport such a great amount of weight with just a commercial driver’s license. In 2011 there were over 49,000 accidents in Oregon. Of those, 1,020 were tractor trailer (including double and triple trailer) and commercial truck accidents that resulted in damage that required a tow, a personal injury, or fatality. Of those 1,020, 43 people were killed. Of those 43, just 6 were truck drivers.
A grand total of 331 traffic deaths occurred that year, and only 6 of them were truck drivers themselves. This shows just how dangerous it is to collide with such a large, powerful vehicle as a commercial truck. When an average car crashes with a commercial truck, such an accident is much more likely to cause a fatality.
Additional transport of cargo on Oregon’s congested freeways is cause for concern. Our roads are already at capacity with an influx of new Oregonians. While the number of trucks on the roads rises, the physical capacity of the roads themselves has not changed to accommodate this increase in traffic. As a result, the death toll rises as more cars sharing the road with more trucks equals more accidents.
Some Nasty Truck Accidents
On July 20, 2016, a log truck collided with a Dodge pickup truck on highway 219 in St. Paul closing the highway between Champoeg and McKay roads. The double-trailer logging truck jackknifed while its load of oil spilled on the ground. One man was airlifted.
On July 21st 2016 a 51-year old man died in a tragic accident involving a cement truck descending a steep hill in Laurelwood. The truck’s brakes failed causing the loaded truck to sway sideways and flip over on the side of the road down a 20 foot embankment. The driver, who was alone in the vehicle, died at the scene in an accident that has happened before on the same stretch of road.
On July 31st a young Tygh Valley man was killed in a truck accident by Helix after a water truck pinned him against a semi truck. The victim, Guy Simer, along with James Harris were trying to release a semi truck and trailer that was stranded on an incline. The two men hooked a tow strap between the trucks. As they were connecting them the water truck began rolling backwards. Simer was trapped. Harris suffered injuries to his head.
A few factors are large contributors to trucking accidents that are both the fault of the truck drivers and the drivers of ordinary passenger cars.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Aside from things you cannot control like the weather or your vehicle malfunctioning, the following are common causes of truck accidents:
Passenger Car Errors
- Driving in the “no zones” or the truck’s blind spots
- Changing lanes abruptly in front of trucks
- Failure to slow down or speed up when a truck starts to change lanes or merge
- Unsafe passing
- Driving between large trucks
- Maneuvering to the right of a truck making a right turn
- Insufficient driver training
- Speeding encouraged by tight schedules
- Lane drifting
- Driver fatigue
Safe Trucking in Oregon
With the Cascades sprawled all throughout a state that sees more than its fair share of rainy days, trucking is a particularly high-risk activity. Driving on hills in a truck requires an acute attention to safe driving procedures. For truck drivers, safe driving on hills means a longer period of anticipation to what lies ahead. There are protocols for both uphill and downhill maneuvers to traverse treacherous paths with care. It is vital to closely adhere to the training received to drive commercial vehicles.
Should you ever find yourself in a car-truck collision in Portland, it’s wise to consult with a personal injury expert attorney. Trucking accidents can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if severe injury and property damage are involved. It can take months to recover from your injuries and get back to work. In the most severe of cases, that may not even be possible. During these hard times you need strong legal representation from Rizklaw. Call (503) 245-5677 for professional, compassionate legal care.