Reckless driving is a dangerous phenomenon that claims thousands of lives annually. Combine this driving with an 80,000-pound, 18-wheeled tractor trailer, and the results are inevitably grim. Below, we detail what to look for when keeping an eye out for aggressive truck drivers, as well as how to stay safe and report them.
What does aggressive driving look like?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as the commission of “a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Accordingly, aggressive driving generally involves a sequence of moving violations that suggest that the driver is more than just careless and may be acting intentionally.
While each aggressive driving case is unique in its own regard, each may involve any of the following behaviors:
- Excessive speeding
- Repetitive braking and accelerating
- Obscene gesturing
- Cutting off other drivers
- Following a driver to her destination
Aggressive driving may also take the form of actual contact, such as an intentional fender bender or sideswipe.
What should I do if I spot an aggressive truck driver?
Manage your road rage.
It can be frustrating to see another driver endangering others on the road. However, one of the worst things that you can do when a trucker is driving poorly is to respond aggressively.
Never try to take the situation into your hands by doing these things:
- Blasting the horn
- Using inappropriate hand gestures
- Brake checking
These actions can only make the situation worse. If the driver is distracted, a loud noise may surprise him and cause an accident. Let the authorities handle the driver.
Never follow the driver.
If the driver is ahead of you, keep your distance. Get as much information about the driver as you can without endangering yourself or others.
Pull over and call 911.
If you spot an aggressive truck driver on the road, the most important thing to do is to keep your distance. If the driver is behind you, change lanes or pull over to let the driver pass. Once you have safely pulled over, call 911 and report the driver. The dispatcher will ask for any information you were able to gather, such as:
- Make, model, and color
- Any distinguishing characteristics (logos, pictures, company name)
- Direction the truck is headed
- License plate number
If the truck driver also pulls over, do not get out of your car. Remain in the car with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. If the driver confronts you, do not engage with him.
Report the driver to the trucking company.
Many trucks have a “How’s my driving?” sticker on the back with a number to call and report reckless driving. If you can safely do so, write down the number and pull over to report the driver. Do not attempt to do any of this while driving. Only do this if you are pulled over or at a red light. The best option is to ask a passenger to write down the information and call the trucking company.
What do I do if an aggressive truck driver causes an accident?
Unfortunately, even when drivers have respect for other drivers and follow the rules of the road, accidents happen. If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, you will need to prove that the driver aggressive driving constituted negligence. To do so, you must establish each of the following elements:
- Duty: The truck driver, at the time of the crash, owed a duty of care and caution to the victim. In general, all drivers owe a duty to one another to drive safely and cautiously while on the roadway, so this element may be easily met.
- Breach: The truck driver committed some act (or omission) in disregard of his duty to drive safely. This could include any of the moving violations listed above.
- Causation: The truck driver’s breach caused the resulting crash. In other words, there were no other intervening events that could have possibly caused the crash instead (e.g., weather, malfunctioning truck parts).
- Damages: The accident caused damage to the victim’s physical health, property, or finances.
By establishing negligence, a plaintiff will be in the position to receive compensation for his or her injuries — including both economic damages and non-quantifiable general damages (e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish).
How can I prove negligence?
To prove negligence, you need to gather evidence, such as:
Witness reports are one of the most valuable types of evidence because a witness typically is an unbiased, neutral third party with no interest in fabricating or altering information. If there were witnesses to the accident or the truck driver’s behavior leading up to the accident, then getting a statement from those witnesses as soon as possible may be critical to your claim.
Something that speaks even more volumes than eyewitness reports is captured video of the accident. While video footage can be harder to obtain and is much less common, if there is any film of your accident, you need to access it. Some sources of video may be nearby retailers, individual citizens who caught the accident on camera or traffic cameras.
Electronic Control Module Data
Most trucks manufactured in the past 10 years come equipped with Electronic Control Modules (ECM). An ECM is designed to record any data regarding the operation of the truck over a rolling 30-day period. As such, if a truck driver drove aggressively, the ECM should capture, at the very least, the speed at which the truck driver operated the vehicle (which can be indicative of aggression).
Because data is only saved for 30 days on average, it is important that you take action immediately to preserve the data.
Let a truck accident lawyer help you preserve (through a spoliation letter) and gather all the evidence listed above so you can concentrate on the most important thing – healing.
Contact a Bucks County truck accident attorney today.