What Is Off-Tracking on Trucks?

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Every move and maneuver matters when someone is driving a truck. If the truck driver makes an error when turning, the front and back wheels of a tractor-trailer may not move on the same path. Then, the truck may make unpredictable movements that could cause it to strike nearby drivers and even pedestrians.

Truck off-tracking accidents may cause serious injuries. The Wilmington truck accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez can investigate the cause of your truck accident and work to hold the responsible party accountable for what they did.

What Are the Two Types of Off-Tracking?

There is a relationship between vehicle turning characteristics and roadway geometry. Offtracking is the difference in paths of the frontmost inside wheel and rearmost inside wheel of a vehicle as it negotiates a turn.

There are two types of off-tracking:

  • Low-speed off-tracking: A large truck is making a turn at a slow speed. The wheels may follow a path several feet inside of the steering axle. Then, the driver would need to swing unexpectedly wide to complete the turn. The wide turn could place the truck in the path of another vehicle.
  • High-speed off-tracking: The rear of the truck would move outward. The rear wheels are tracking outside the path of the front wheel by several feet.

The result of off-tracking is the same, regardless of the speed. The truck would take a wider path than it otherwise would have. The truck could veer into another line or strike a car in close proximity.

How Off-Tracking Accidents Are Caused

The truck driver could overcompensate for the off-tracking and try to regain full control of the vehicle.

They could then lose control of the truck or cause a jackknife or rollover. Truck rollover accidents are extremely dangerous because the truck spins into the path of other cars at high speeds, and the drivers cannot avoid the truck.

The type of turn that the truck driver makes can decide whether it is successful. Ideally, the driver should execute a “button hook” turn. Some drivers may attempt a jug handle turn, where they swing wide before they make the turn. This turn, however, increases the chance that the truck may go off-track.

Avoiding off-tracking accidents is often a function of driver training. Truck drivers have a matter of split seconds to respond to immediate challenges and regain control. They must strike a balance between taking quick action and not overreacting too much.

Training can also teach the driver how to properly make turns. Since an off-tracking accident is often a geometric issue, the path that the truck driver takes when making a turn matters. Truck drivers should leave space to the right when making a right turn. The turn needs to be made at the exact right time because turning too soon or too late can cause off-tracking.

In some cases, off-tracking may not have anything to do with the driver. The truck’s center of gravity may be altered by how the cargo is loaded onto the truck. The driver’s actions may not be able to prevent off-tracking. In that case, a third-party cargo handler could be legally responsible for the accident.

Proving Liability in an Off-Tracking Accident Case

You may need to prove that the truck driver did something wrong in an off-track accident. You could rely on witness testimony from people who saw the turn maneuver that the driver made. The truck’s black box recorder could have also captured the movements of the vehicle before the accident. You may also have dashcam footage of how the truck made the turn.

One of the most helpful forms of evidence in an off-tracking case is the testimony of an expert witness.

Since the proper turning form is based on geometric principles, the expert witnesses could use principles of math to analyze the turning radius of the truck and compare it to what a driver should have done.

Contact a Wilmington Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. The attorneys at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys can work to establish the cause of your truck accident and fight for you to get a fair settlement check. You can speak with one of our lawyers in a free initial consultation. Call us today at 910-405-7751 or send us a message online to begin the legal process. You pay nothing unless you win.

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