Trucks are a good deal larger and heavier than standard passenger vehicles. This means they are inherently more dangerous in a collision – what might be a minor accident for two sedans can be deadly with a truck involved.
Even other trucks are not safe in the event of a collision. Just this May, CDL Life reported, “A commercial vehicle that failed to see the slowed traffic struck a second commercial vehicle in the rear;” both people in the first truck died as a result of the accident.
While driver error is largely the cause behind truck accidents, as it was in the fatal crash this May, employers have a bad habit of imposing unsafe practices on their truckers for the sake of efficiency. These practices often lead to drivers forgoing necessary rest, breaks, or even required maintenance, and therefore may add to further accidents.
Understanding the pros and cons of team driving and slip-seating
Cutting corners for the sake of speed and profit is nothing new in the business world, no matter the industry. Motor carriers of all sorts are no different. Controlling how many hours a driver can be on the road and how often trucks need maintenance is all done in the name of preventing as many accidents as possible, but employers are often looking for loopholes and tricks to get around it.
Two such practices are team driving and slip-seating. Both are different ways to keep trucks moving as constantly as possible, increasing delivery times for essential cargo. Team driving refers to two or more drivers riding together and taking turns behind the wheel, while slip-seating is the practice of getting into any available truck when someone finishes their route rather than being assigned their own vehicle. Someone is always taking over; someone is always available.
While efficiency is an obvious pro of having delivery trucks that never stop or stay idle for long, other benefits include better utilization of equipment and even tax incentives for slip-seating specifically. It helps any companies experiencing a driver shortage, something all-too-common right now. It may also reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents; if one driver is too tired, there is another one there to share the burden.
Drivers, however, dislike both practices. According to Drive My Way, regional drivers (those who cover specific states as opposed to driving within one state) and long-haul drivers (also known as over-the-road, or OTR, drivers) “cite messy cabs, the inefficient use of time required to remove belongings from the cab, and less well-maintained equipment as top concerns about slip seating.”
While morale as a whole is incredibly important, it is the negative effect on equipment that poses one of the biggest dangers. The longer a truck is on the road, the more wear-and-tear, the more maintenance is needed — but because the truck is almost always moving, routine tune-ups and maintenance are more likely to be skipped. This increases the chances of tire blowouts or problems with steering and braking, which in turn increases the risk of a collision, rollover, or jackknife.
Most truckers aren’t fans of team driving, either. An experienced trucker very passionately discusses just how many problems there are with such a practice on TruckingTruth.com. He cites a reality where truckers do not get to choose their co-drivers and must spend miles and miles with strangers who may be entirely different from them — and with no privacy. In addition, drivers must be okay with trusting their co-drivers to control the truck while they sleep next to them. For team driving, what poses the largest risk to safety (alongside maintenance issues) is the environment of distraction it creates. Two people who do not get along are likely to argue in close quarters, which means they will be paying less attention. One person may overwhelm the other with “backseat driving.” Or, you may get along but be constantly woken up to take over for your partner on your days off — because you are still a team.
All this is to say that truckers who must participate in either team driving or slip-seating are likelier to be more distracted, rushed, and exhausted – the very things that such processes are intended to address, and all common causes of truck accidents.
What should I do if I’m hurt in a truck accident near Sevierville?
Truck accident victims may suffer catastrophic injuries, if they do not lose their lives. Some of these catastrophic injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain damage
- Severe burn injuries
- Loss of limb or amputation
- Shattered and broken bones
Damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent paralysis. Traumatic brain injuries can affect every aspect of victims, from their personalities to their memories to their ability to function overall. Any one of these injuries alone can have lifelong ramifications and require years and years of surgery, medication, treatments, and accommodations, and victims may suffer more than one injury at once. Complications, unfortunately, can always happen.
Injuries of such a severe nature come with substantial medical expenses. If they have been caused by the negligence of another party, no matter the circumstances, you need to hire an aggressive personal injury lawyer to get compensated for your damages. Cases involving trucks may have extra challenges, but the right attorney knows how to work with them. The Sevierville truck accident attorneys at Delius & McKenzie have the experience and tenacity you need to win. We are here for you in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and you can always reach us by phone at 865-428-8780 or via our contact form. Schedule your free consultation today.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.