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Blinking Lights Reduce Rear-End Tanker Truck Accidents

A $150 light added to the rear of tanker trucks in one company’s fleet cut its rear-end accident rate by more than one third, according to a published report.

Could the answer to rear-end accidents among large commercial trucks be that simple?

Hitting a truck from the rear is especially dangerous due to the problem of “underride,” which occurs because commercial truck bodies sit much higher off the ground than other vehicles. In an underride accident, an automobile drives partially under a truck. An underride collision can result in severe or fatal trauma to the head and neck of the occupants of the automobile.

About 20% of large truck crashes are rear-end accidents, according to federal statistics.

Trucks are supposed to have underride guards that function as barriers to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding beneath the rear of the truck in the event of a collision. Many are not properly equipped, despite federal regulations.

If you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident in the greater Indianapolis area, the truck accident attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC can help you seek just compensation for your losses. Our truck accident lawyers have been successfully handling all kinds of personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1999.

How Have Blinking Lights on Tanker Trucks Proved Helpful?

Groendyke Transport of Enid, Okla., began testing strobe lights as supplemental brake lights on the back of its trailers and noticed a significant reduction in rear-end collisions over 31 months, according to a report by American Trucker.

With a $150 amber strobe light that blinks about 73 times per minute as the truck brakes attached to the rear of their tankers, the company has had a 34% reduction in rear-end accidents overall. Rear-end collisions while stopped at railroad crossings dropped to zero.

According to the report, drivers whose trailer was equipped with a strobe light saw traffic behind them start to make lane changes sooner, and other drivers seemed more attentive. Once the company started tracking data, it confirmed what the drivers were noticing.

“All accumulated, there are roughly 80 to 90 million miles, roughly, involved of strobe and no-strobes travel,” said Brian Gigoux, vice president of equipment and maintenance at Groendyke. “We felt like that was a sizeable sample.”

Gigoux said the company tried various placements and strobe speeds before settling on one approach. Now the company has almost 900 trailers with the lights.

Ryan Pietzsch, a driver safety education expert for the National Safety Council who had not reviewed the Groendyke study, told American Trucker that amber or yellow is associated with hazard or warning, and construction vehicles and oversized loads use flashing amber warning lights.

During the study, Groendyke drivers were continually ticketed because federal regulations prohibit blinking exterior lights except for turn indicators, oversized loads and a few other special situations. Eventually, the company obtained an exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The National Tank Truck Carriers has since petitioned FMCSA to allow pulsating, brake-activated lights.

Common Causes of Tanker Truck Accidents

The FMCSA Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2017, the latest FMCSA statistics published, lists rear impact as the initial point of collision in 19.4% of fatal large truck crashes and 21.5% of injury crashes.

A rear underride crash involves a rear-end collision in which an automobile slides under the back of a trailer. In an underride crash, the upper passenger compartment of the passenger vehicle often sustains the brunt of the impact. The roof may be sheared off or the passenger compartment crushed. Underride crashes are some of the most devastating types of truck accidents on Indiana highways.

There are several potential contributing factors to rear-end accidents. Some of the most common include:

  • Failure to use underride guards
  • Defects in underride guards
  • Brake or signal light failure
  • Failure to signal lane changes
  • Failure to observe vehicles in the truck’s no-zones
  • Failure to notice truck braking and/or signaling
  • Brake failure
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver distraction
  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Inclement weather.

What to Do If You’re in a Tanker Truck Accident 

tanker trush crash on roadAfter a serious commercial tanker truck accident involving other vehicles, it is common for the insurance company that represents the trucking company to contact the injured or the grieving family. An insurance adjuster in such a situation is seeking a way to minimize the amount of money the insurance company will have to pay out for the accident.

You have no obligation to provide information to the adjuster for a trucking company’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who settle claims every day. They can and will use your words against you. You may even be offered what sounds like a sizable settlement. You can be sure it is a low-ball offer. If you accept it, however, your claim is closed and done, no matter what the accident eventually costs you.

As you obtain medical help for a serious injury suffered in a truck accident, you should keep a record of everything that happens to you and every dollar the accident and your injuries cost you. You should contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer.

Our Indianapolis personal injury law firm responds to serious tanker truck accidents by activating our emergency response truck accident team, including attorneys David W. Craig and Scott A. Faultless, a private investigator, a mechanical expert, an expert qualified to download the commercial truck’s black box and an accident reconstructionist.

Our legal team at Craig, Kelley & Faultless is committed to pursuing all evidence that shows what happened in a truck accident, calculating all of the compensation you deserve for your losses and working aggressively to protect ensuring your financial future. We will work diligently to hold accountable those who are responsible for the unjust harm you have suffered.

Contact an Indianapolis Tanker Truck Accident Attorney 

Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC for the experience and skills needed to recover a proper insurance payment after a tanker truck accident. We investigate accidents and prepare each case thoroughly so that we can negotiate aggressively and present a solid case to a jury if needed to recover full compensation for our clients.

Contact us online or by telephone at (800) 746-0226 for a free consultation about your accident. If you are unable to come to us, we will come to you.