A recent case in Sacramento involved a bicyclist traveling in an industrial area who was struck and killed by a truck at 5:15 AM on Florin Perkins Road. Newspapers and police immediately
opined that the bicyclist must be at fault because she was riding in the early morning and her bike should have had more reflectors. Such rushes to judgment are frequent. They are often also
Since the bicyclist was killed, her side of what happened can never be told. The trucker, of course, will say that he never saw the bicyclist and did not have a chance to avoid the collision.
As an experienced Sacramento trucking lawyer since 1982, there’s a lot more information to discover before fault can be definitively determined.
I wonder what speed the truck was traveling when the bicyclist was struck. Let’s assume he was going 40 mph. That speed translates to 60 feet per second approximately that the truck was moving.
Its normal for an attentive driver to spend 1.5 seconds to perceive and then react to something in the road in front of him. In 1.5 seconds, the truck would have traveled 90 feet.
Headlights of a truck usually illuminate an area at least 300 feet in front of the truck and this is the minimum distance required by California law.
This means that an attentive truck driver would have seen the bicyclist some 5 seconds before the collision. If he hit the brakes after 1.5 seconds, there would be 3.5 seconds of braking in which to stop.
An experienced trucking accident lawyer would determine with the aid of experts if a truck of that size could have stopped within that 3.5 seconds of braking. If not, what speed should the truck have been going when it struck the bicyclist if the brakes were applied on time. Here is a handy calculator that will give you an approximate vehicle stopping distance at certain speeds.
Additionally, I’d like to know what hours the manifest of the trucker indicated he had worked. There are very stringent Federal regulations that determine the maximum time a trucker can drive and that require certain rest times between driving. Many trucking accidents are caused by driver fatigue, but only an experienced trucking accident attorney can uncover these violations.
After a full investigation, it could be that the accident was the sole result of the bicycle driver’s negligence. More common, however, is the situation where both the bicyclist and the truck driver are comparatively negligent. Never assume from the newspaper accounts or from a police report that the conclusions drawn are the correct ones.