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Beltway Truck Accidents

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 By

beltway truck accidents

The Capital Beltway is named for the two major highways that circle Washington, DC. Both the I-495 and I-95 loop around the city and extend into several suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. This 64-mile stretch consists of an Inner and Outer loop: those driving on the Outer Loop will see Washington, DC on their left while motorists on the Inner Loop will see it on their right.

Being a major transportation link between several communities, traffic volumes on the Beltway are often as high as 225,000 regular and commercial vehicles per day. Traffic congestion, combined with driver error and challenging road configurations, frequently leads to accidents. In fact, there is an average of 260 documented collisions on the Beltway each year.

What Makes the Beltway So Dangerous?

There are several reasons why the Beltway has a reputation for being so dangerous.

Traffic Volume

Due to the sheer volume of daily traffic, rear-end collisions are especially common; according to the Federal Highway Administration, around 44% of the accidents that occur along the Beltway are rear-end crashes, suggesting that too many motorists (truckers included) are tailgating.

The FHA also found that:

  • The peak time for crashes coincided with rush-hour traffic, and a single accident often contributed to additional ones
  • Approximately 17% of crashes occur when one vehicle sideswipes another. This crash type is often related to congestion or frequent lane changes.

In March 2021, a tractor-trailer containing more than 20 tons of frozen fish crashed on the Outer Loop in Tysons Corner near the Leesburg Pike exit. It happened during the afternoon rush hour and blocked three out of four lanes of traffic.

Speeding

Despite the congestion (or perhaps because of it), truckers and other motorists persist in speeding along this already dangerous thoroughfare. Earlier this year, the Maryland Department of Transportation began using friction abrasion treatments to slow down drivers in certain stretches of the Beltway, specifically in Montgomery County between Bradley Boulevard and Connecticut Avenue.

Distracted Driving

Another issue is distracted driving, especially along the roadway between Georgia Avenue and Rockville Pike, where an especially eye-catching Mormon temple can be seen. Even when this architectural wonder is not in view, drivers can be equally absorbed by text messages, emails, and phone calls.

High Winds and Bad Weather

Windstorms are common in the DC area during springtime. Dangerous wind gusts can send debris, power lines, and even large trees crashing onto the Beltway, setting the stage for a serious accident even when traffic is not congested. The FHA also noted that one-third of Beltway crashes occur on wet, icy, or snow-covered pavement.

Road Layout

Certain points along the Beltway are known as accident hotspots. One of the biggest ones is located at the Outer Loop as you approach the split onto the I-270. You need to be prepared to quickly change lanes when you’re deciding to stay on the I-495 or turn onto the 270.

With large commercial vehicles like trucks and tractor-trailers, it’s easy to lose control during such a rapid lane shift, resulting in a major accident. In September 2020, the Maryland State Police reported that 36 commercial vehicles had crashed at or near this site since the pandemic began. Incidents included jack-knifed tractor-trailers and trailers breaking loose and rolling into the roadway.

That same month, a driver lost control of his tractor-trailer as he rounded a left curve and struck a concrete barrier. The trailer, which contained a cargo of cabinets, overturned and fell onto the I-270 below. Fortunately, no one was injured but the Outer Loop of I-495 was shut down at Old Georgetown Road and the I-270’s two right lanes were closed for hours. All it took was seconds for a major incident to occur.

Which Areas of the Beltway Are the Most Dangerous?

Below are the top Beltway accident sites for 2018 based on the WTOP Traffic Center database.

  • The portion near the Georgia Avenue exit ramps (201 crashes)
  • The area near Connecticut Avenue (155 crashes)
  • The two-mile-long stretch of the Beltway on either side of I-66 in Virginia

Additional collisions were reported near I-270, Rockville Pike, River Road, and New Hampshire Avenue.

Additional Beltway Accident Statistics

  • In 2018, there were 1,797 motor vehicle crashes on the outdoor loop, which is slightly more than the 1,666 on the Inner Loop.
  • November experienced the highest number of crashes, followed closely by October.

A Beltway Truck Accident Can Change Your Life

Accidents involving trucks are much more complex than those involving passenger cars, so victims should always contact a personal injury lawyer with experience handling truck accident claims. These types of accidents are more complicated for several reasons:

  • Commercial trucks are much larger than cars, weighing 10,000 pounds or more empty and up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. Consequently, crashes tend to be more severe and there is more physical evidence to examine afterward.
  • Most truck drivers are immediately backed up by their employers. A trucking company’s legal team and investigators focus on protecting the driver and the company from financial harm caused by the accident.
  • The operation of transfer trucks that haul cargo throughout Maryland often involves other parties that may share responsibility for the crash.

Investigating truck accidents requires a thorough understanding of the federal regulations that govern all aspects of the industry, including the records and reports truckers and motor carriers must maintain. At Duboff & Associates, Chtd., we have the experience and the resolve to pursue your claim against large corporations willing to spend a lot of money to shield themselves from liability.

Although certain sections of the Beltway can be difficult to navigate, these challenges aren’t the only cause of truck accidents. Other potential factors include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Distracted driving (includes checking or sending texts, talking on the phone, and adjusting GPS systems).
  • Driver fatigue- many drivers are under intense pressure to travel a certain number of miles each day in order to achieve company goals.
  • Going over the speed limit.
  • Cargo shifting or spilling during transit.
  • Failure of a critical vehicle component, such as the steering or braking system.
  • Dangerous road conditions due to ice, snow, rain, or debris
  • Improperly set up work zones

After a truck accident on the Beltway, our attorneys act quickly to preserve records and other evidence. We will pursue a court order to access the wreckage and the truck’s Event Data Recorder, which would have recorded the vehicle’s operations just prior to the collision. With especially complex accidents, we may seek assistance from collision reconstruction specialists who can accurately identify how and why the accident took place.

Types of Truck Accident Injuries

Injuries from truck accidents can be catastrophic. When a person survives a crash, they are often left with horrific injuries that can take years or decades to heal. Common truck accident injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries affecting major organs like the bladder, liver, kidney, pancreas and spleen
  • Lacerations
  • Paralysis

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), truck accidents are much more likely to kill someone in a passenger vehicle than a crash with another car. If someone you love dies from injuries sustained in a Beltway truck accident, we will seek the compensation necessary for your family to try to move forward.

Our Beltway Truck Accident Attorneys Will Fight For the Compensation You Need

Our Maryland Beltway accident attorneys work tirelessly to determine all of your costs and losses in connection with the accident. We may seek compensation for:

  • Existing medical bills and anticipated requirements for future medical care
  • Lost income if the accident left you unable to work
  • Lost earning ability if you are disfigured or permanently disabled
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Punitive damages if the driver or the trucking company displayed egregious behavior

Once all liable parties have been identified, we file every possible insurance claim to obtain full compensation for you. By preparing solid cases, we negotiate with insurers from a position of strength. When insurers refuse to offer a settlement that meets our clients’ needs, we are ready to present a convincing argument in court.

When another party’s negligence leaves you injured and creates a financial burden for you, our skilled truck accident lawyers will assertively pursue the fair outcome that you deserve.

Injured on the Beltway? Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Today!

Accidents involving trucks can result in life-altering injuries. If it happens to you, you need to work with a personal injury attorney who understands state and federal trucking laws knows how to investigate the circumstances of the accident, and will demand compensation and justice from those responsible for your injuries.

At Duboff & Associates, Chtd., we know how quickly trucking companies move to protect themselves from liability after an accident. Our truck accident lawyers have years of experience standing up to commercial carriers and their insurers after accidents in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. We will investigate your case and negotiate with insurers on your behalf so you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.

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