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Causes of Truck Accidents

Types Of Truck AccidentsEvery year, thousands of truck accidents happen across America, where most involve large trucks hitting smaller vehicles or pedestrians. Over half of fatal tractor-trailer crashes involving large trucks occur during daylight hours.

While most car accidents involve only minor injuries, trucking companies must ensure that their drivers stay safe while driving semi-tractor trailers. All truck drivers must undergo rigorous training before being allowed behind the wheel. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to complete these safety courses properly.

Were you involved in a truck accident and felt overwhelmed about who was responsible for causing the crash, how much you could receive from the insurance company, and what to do next? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can investigate what happened, review the evidence and police report, and build a case to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve.

Contact our truck accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study - Analysis Brief

This truck accident study analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), detailing every fatality resulting from an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). A CMV is a vehicle carrying 16 or more passengers or weighing 10,001 pounds.

FARS data is collected by state highway safety offices and submitted to NHTSA.

The State Highway Safety Office collects FARS data and submits it to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

About one-third of fatal truck accidents involve alcohol impairment, while another third involves drug or medical conditions.

Approximately one-quarter of crashes involved speeding, and nearly one-fifth occurred during daylight hours. In addition, about 20% of crashes happened at night.

In total, there were 8,812 large truck crashes reported in 2017. Of those, 2,947 resulted in injuries, 718 in fatalities, and 5,743 in no injuries.

What Types of Vehicles Affect the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

There are many different types of vehicles that cause accidents, including:

  • Passenger vehicles
  • Light trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Bicycles
  • Farm equipment
  • Construction machinery
  • Dump trucks
  • Semi-trucks
  • Buses
  • Pedestrians

Each type of vehicle has unique characteristics that make it dangerous. For example, large trucks often weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds and can easily overturn. They also travel faster than an average passenger car, which can increase the risk of serious injuries.

Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Trucking companies are responsible for transporting goods and hazardous materials across the nation utilizing various vehicles, including delivery trucks and semi-tractor trailers. They do this by hauling cargo across state lines and even international borders.

Commercial trucks are big machines that carry heavy loads over long distances. These large rigs are often driven by professional truck drivers who work for one of the major freight carriers.

Unfortunately, there are still some common causes of truck accidents that can happen to anyone, including:

Driver Fatigue

Experienced drivers must pay attention to every traffic situation while operating a vehicle, including following the posted speed limits and state and federal regulations that manage the trucking industry.

Overtaking Vehicles

Overtaking another vehicle is dangerous because truckers are often disadvantaged due to their blind spots and other factors. Accidents caused by overtaking vehicles often leave the victims with horrific injuries.

Poor Road Conditions

Roadways aren't always perfectly smooth. Sometimes, they have potholes, bumps, and cracks. When driving, you want to avoid hitting anything that could damage your rig.

Driver Error

A recent study found that driver error is the leading cause of fatalities involving commercial motor vehicle accidents. Commercial motor vehicle drivers must always keep safety as one of their primary concerns. They must follow all federal regulations, including those concerning hours of service, rest periods, and drug testing. These rules help ensure safe transportation for everyone involved.

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Poor vehicle maintenance can lead to dangerous driving conditions. It could even cause fatal crashes. A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study found that drivers are less likely to take precautions because they don't think about how equipment failure, worn tires, or mechanical failure could lead to a catastrophic accident with the most severe injuries.

Improper Cargo Loading

Improper cargo loading may seem like a no-brainer, but many different errors can occur during the process. Some common examples include:

  • Overloading occurs when too much weight is placed on one side of the truck.
  • Underloading happens when too little weight is placed on the truck.
  • Wrong type of cargo for the vehicle could lead to a severe truck accident.
  • Poorly secured loads – If a load is not properly secured, it could shift during transit, causing damage to the truck or injury to people working around it.
  • Unsecured loads – Loads that are not tied down securely can move during transport.

Safety measures are available to prevent proper cargo loading, but it's important to know what those measures are before moving the truck from the loading dock.

Poor Weather Conditions

Winter storms are much worse than summertime thunderstorms because truckers and passenger car drivers don't always prepare themselves properly. Winter storms bring snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, high winds, and low visibility, leading to many truck accidents yearly.

Adverse weather conditions make it harder for truckers and other drivers to see hazards like potholes, fallen trees, animals, debris, and each other.

In addition, many roads become slick due to melting snow and ice, minimizing the braking ability to stop in time to avoid a crash. These conditions make driving dangerous for everyone involved.

Intoxicated Semi-Truck Drivers

Commercial drivers are required to keep blood alcohol levels at 0.04% or lower. Truck drivers could also lose their commercial driver's license and be fined up to $2500.

A trucker who drives under 0.08% could lose their job or go to jail. Truck drivers convicted of operating a motor vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08% or greater face mandatory suspension of their commercial driver's license.

Reckless Driving

Truck companies are cracking down on truck drivers who drink and drive by taking action against those who cause accidents and put themselves and others at risk. Data reveals that reckless driving causes more accidents than combined driver error and distracted driving.

Any truck accident involving reckless or aggressive driving places everyone at risk and creates a liability issue for the truck driver, trucking company, and others, especially in a fatal crash.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is among the common causes of truck accidents.

Some of those deaths could have been avoided had the truck driver simply kept their eyes on the road instead of on a cell phone.

Data shows that talking and texting on a smartphone cause more distracted driving than any other issue when operating a large commercial truck.

Drivers often text while operating heavy equipment, and it's easy to become engrossed in social media apps.

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Trucking accidents are often caused by poor vehicle maintenance. A recent study found that truckers who reported having problems with their trucks had twice the risk of being involved in a crash compared to those without such problems, especially those with brake problems.

Unrealistic Time Constraints

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drivers are often unaware of how long it takes to reach certain destinations.

For example, according to NHTSA data, the average trip duration for passenger cars is just over 20 minutes, while the average trip duration for a commercial truck is nearly 30 minutes.

The time difference in reaching a destination in a passenger vehicle compared to a truck means that truck drivers frequently operate under unrealistic time constraints.

Poor Driver Training

A recent study found that poor training is not necessarily among the leading common causes of truck accidents but rather a symptom of an underlying issue. It could even be used as a predictor of future riskier behavior.

Researchers analyzed data from 5,902 truck drivers participating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Crash Avoidance Data System program. They compared the performance of those trained to drive heavy vehicles with those who hadn't and were involved in the injury crashes.

Problems Braking

A truck driver should always maintain enough space in front or behind other vehicles, including cars, Motorcycles, bicycles and other large objects. The truck driver should be aware of pedestrians and others in the area especially during poor weather conditions.

Blind Spots

Most truck accidents occur on America's busiest roadways during daylight hours. Many of these accidents involve tractor-trailer trucks, large vehicles designed to carry cargo long distances.

These vehicles often have blind spots, meaning there are areas where the trucker cannot see what is happening behind them, making it challenging to avoid collisions with people or objects. Motorists operating passenger cars following a truck must know about blind spots to protect everyone sharing the road.

Truck Driver Accident Statistics

Truck accidents are one of the leading causes of death among commercial vehicle operators. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 3,200 people died in crashes involving large trucks in 2019 alone.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) collects data about fatal large truck accidents. In 2018, there were 4,821 truck fatalities, up 5% from 2015. Of those deaths, 2,973 involved tractor-trailers.

In 2019, the number of fatal truck accidents dropped to 3,735—a decrease of 14%, involving all commercial vehicles. However, the total number of large truck crashes rose from 10,086 to 11,095, representing an increase of 7%, according to the agency.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data reveals that speeding is the most common cause of fatal truck crashes. Speeding accounts for nearly half of all trucker fatalities.

What to Do After a Truck Accident

The sheer size and weight of semi-tractor-trailers can create catastrophic truck accidents.

After a truck accident, taking care of yourself first is important. Call 911 immediately for immediate medical attention if you don't feel well. The rushing adrenaline in the moments after an accident may hide a devastating problem that might not be apparent without the best diagnostic equipment and tests.

You likely need to contact your insurance company, which will ask questions, including whether the accident was caused by neglect and whether you sustained injuries.

Law enforcement will arrive at the accident scene to file a police report and record the names and personal information of every person involved in the crash.

Although the common causes of truck accidents leave the police to determine who is at fault, there may be extenuating circumstances that led to the crash involving the other driver.

Hiring an attorney to protect your rights to the legal process and ensure that you in every other family member involved in the crash receive maximum compensation for damages.

Hire a Truck Accident Attorney

Our personal injury lawyers work hard to ensure our clients receive fair compensation for injuries sustained due to another person's negligence. Our attorneys are committed to providing quality representation and support throughout every process.

Call a truck accident lawyer from our law office at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys will investigate what caused the accident and hold the trucker, trucking company, and others financially responsible for damages.

We represent people injured in truck accidents, bus accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, train accidents, construction site accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, defective products, premises liability, wrongful death, and many others.


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