A truck experiences “off-tracking” when its front and rear wheels do not stay on the same path. Although some states do not permit longer combination vehicles, which have a greater incidence of off-tracking, many of the large tractor-trailers still experience this dangerous situation while turning or changing lanes. As trucks have become larger over the years, the incidences of off-tracking have increased, especially after articulated commercial trucks with cabs and trailers became the norm.
Off-tracking involves an analysis of the distance between the distance traveled by the front inside wheel and the path of the rear inside wheel as the truck traverses an intersection, negotiates a turn, or moves through a curve. Some experts may talk about the maximum swept path, which is the combination of the width of the vehicle plus the amount of distance that the truck off-tracks. Problems arise when the maximum swept path exceeds the lane of travel. This leads to impacting other vehicles in adjacent lanes, traveling in the shoulder, or running off the road.
Many times, the nature and degree of off-tracking depends on the rate of speed of the truck. A truck that is traveling at a lower rate of speed may have rear wheels that track inside the path followed by the front wheels while high-speed travel often leads to rear wheels that track outside the path of the front wheels. When a truck driver performs swinging turns, which are wide turns that require travel into another lane of travel in order to complete the turn, the degree of off-tracking may increase.
A truck that is experiencing off-tracking may impact pedestrians in the area adjacent to a roadway, as well as bicycles that are traveling in a bike lane or on the shoulder. In addition, when a truck starts to travel into an adjacent lane due to off-tracking, the driver may over-compensate by wrenching the steering wheel in the opposite direction, resulting in a truck that jackknifes or overturns (which can lead to one or more serious collisions).
There are many conditions that contribute to an off-tracking accident, including:
- An inexperienced truck driver;
- A driver traveling under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Driving while fatigued;
- Driving while distracted by personal electronic devices, including cell phones, or other things that result in a trucker’s eyes or focus being taken off the road;
- Failing to yield to a traffic signal;
- Driving up on an incline;
- Using improper braking techniques;
- Having an overloaded trailer or cargo that is not properly secured; and
- Any other actions that cause a trailer to move out of the lane of travel.
While the negligence of the truck driver may cause the accident, if the trucking company did not train the truck driver properly before sending the truck out on the road, then the company may be responsible, at least in part, for the harm that the victims in the accident suffered. In addition, the imposition of difficult or impossible schedules by the trucking companies may lead to a driver who drives too fast and takes too many risks.
A truck accident leads to severe injuries because of the size of the commercial vehicle and the other vehicles or individuals being impacted by the truck. A person who has been in a truck accident may suffer from a lifetime of pain and suffering or the accident may lead to the death of a victim and the family will bring a wrongful death action or a survival action. If you or a loved one has suffered as the result of a devastating truck accident, the skilled truck accident attorneys at Parker Waichman LLC can help get you the results that you deserve. Please call us today at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for your free case evaluation.
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