Due to their size and weight, tractor trailers are challenging to operate safely in traffic. A common problem that drivers of these vehicles encounter is difficulty in negotiating turns, this due to a phenomenon called off-tracking. Off-tracking is when the rear wheels of the trailer travel in a different path around turns and curves than the front wheels do, an effect that frequently results in tractor trailer accidents. Because this is a known effect, truck wreck attorneys maintain that it is the truck driver’s responsibility to prevent accidents through careful driving and negotiation of turns.
What Is Off-Tracking?
Off-tracking is when a Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) like a tractor trailer makes a turn or negotiates a ramp, and the rear wheels of the trailer end up driving in a different path than the tractor and the front wheels of the trailer. This happens in conditions where there is not enough space for the driver to make a wide turn that prevents off-tracking, such as turning on city streets or tight highway on ramp curves. Trailers that off-track usually run over curbs when turning to the right, and invade oncoming traffic lanes when turning to the left. Also, in these tighter situations, the longer the trailer, or combination of trailers, the greater the amount of off-tracking.
How Accidents Happen from Off-Tracking
Off-tracking is a common cause of accidents that range from minor to severe. The usual way that these occurrences happen is when trucks end up driving into other vehicles in their path, or sometimes even unsuspecting pedestrians. At slow speeds such as negotiating city streets this effect is known to cause many fender-bender type accidents, but when off-tracking happens at higher speeds, such as when negotiating a tight curve in the road or an on- or off-ramp, cars can be sideswiped by a truck’s rear wheels, and a bigger, more dangerous accident can occur as a result.
Driver Carelessness and Off-Tracking Accidents
Although it is impossible for truck drivers to avoid off-tracking in many situations, especially when negotiating tight city streets, there are specific, and safe ways in which off-tracking should be handled. Most importantly, drivers must drive slowly enough to carefully make their turns, stopping if it seems they will run into other vehicles, pedestrians or objects along the side of the road. It is the duty of the truck driver to yield to other traffic when it becomes obvious that the truck cannot make its turn without driving into the path of oncoming cars, or onto the sidewalk, and give those vehicles and people the chance to move out of the way. Careless driving and truck drivers who are moving too fast in close conditions are generally the cause of these kinds of accidents.
When trucks fail to stop, or drivers try to stop too late, they may end up hitting something or someone. Drivers of any vehicle, not just big trucks, who are in a hurry tend to make poor judgment decisions, such as those that lead to off-tracking accidents. For this reason, most off-tracking accidents are found to be the fault of truck drivers.
The important idea here is that while off-tracking may not be avoidable in some instances, especially with longer trucks, or multi-trailer LCVs, knowing the appropriate way to deal with it is essential. When truck drivers are careless, tractor trailer accidents caused by off-tracking happen and people are injured. Truck wreck attorneys advise that anyone who has been involved in an accident caused by careless off-tracking.
Pearland, Pasadena, Webster, League City, Webster, Manvel, Alvin, Friendswood, La Marque, Texas City, and Galveston
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190