Semi-Truck accident

6 Common Causes Of Truck Accidents

Some of the most horrific accidents on the road involve large commercial trucks.

Statistics show that around 500,000 accidents on the road are caused either directly or indirectly by commercials trucks.

About 5,000 of those accidents result in fatalities.

Year after year, road authorities put measures in place to reduce the number of collisions and truck accident fatalities.

Unfortunately, this still hasn't put a significant dent in the number of accidents that occur involving commercial trucks every year.

When you examine these accidents, they all seem to be caused by a few different factors.

In the article below, we will discuss six of those factors.

1. Driver Error

Compared to every other cause of truck accidents, driver error is about 10 times more likely to be the cause of a crash.

A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cited the following four critical areas that resulted in more than half of the truck accidents.

  • The driver fell asleep, was disabled by a heart attack or seizure, or was physically impaired for another reason
  • The driver was inattentive, distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately.
  • The driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of another vehicle, or followed a vehicle too closely.
  • The driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.

2. Fatigue

Another very common cause of truck accidents is fatigue caused by overwork.

Most truck drivers typically drive long distances for many hours with very little rest in between.

This is usually caused by the owners of truck companies who demand the delivery of goods to certain destinations within a short period of time.

Truck drivers are then under a great deal of pressure to deliver within the set deadlines to avoid any repercussions.

The little bit of sleep they get is usually very low quality, and the accumulated fatigue causes a loss of concentration, coordination, and sometimes falling asleep at the wheel.

3. Driver Training

It's a commonly held belief among those in the industry that more emphasis needs to be placed on driver training.

In addition to the growing incidence of truck accidents, several other key factors demonstrate the need for better training.

It's estimated that over the next 30 years, trucks will move 40 percent more freight than they do today.

That increased volume, combined with a driver shortage, will put even more stress on trucking companies to hire younger, less experienced drivers.

The FMCSA sporadically reviews the minimum training requirements for truck drivers, including the length of classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel experience, and various other areas.

4. Alcohol and Drug Use

Unfortunately, many truck drivers are found guilty of using alcohol and non-medicinal drugs while on the job.

Some drivers only take the drugs at stops in towns across the country, while others go even further and carry alcohol and drugs with them while driving.

No matter how the drugs and alcohol are being used, their driving can become impaired and they can easily cause accidents.

There are even some prescription drugs that the drivers might be using that can impair their coordination and judgment while they're behind the wheel, leading to accidents.

5. Equipment Failure

The best driver in the world is only as good as the truck they are driving.

A mechanical breakdown can easily result in a catastrophic accident.

A study by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that in 55 percent of truck accidents involving injury, the truck had at least one mechanical error.

The same study also found that 30 percent of tucks had at least one out-of-service equipment issue.

A few common types of equipment failures the study found were:

  • Defective lights including turn signals
  • Overall poor maintenance
  • Unbalanced cargo
  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • Bad tires
  • Defective or missing safety equipment 
  • Transmission failure

Because of so many instances of equipment failure causing accidents, the FMSCA requires every truck driver and company to perform an inspection before each trip.

Regular maintenance inspections must also be completed on the trucks throughout the year.

6. Distracted Driving

driver distracted by smartphone in left hand

Distracted driving is an issue for every driver on the road these days.

For truck drivers, hours of driving over long distances lead to boredom on the road, and they regularly look for something to keep them occupied and awake.

The urge to kill their boredom often leads them to their phones to reply to texts, make phone calls, or even scroll through social media.

Browsing through radio stations also distracts truck drivers, leading to accidents.

When on the road in rural areas, the reception of certain radio stations can be very poor.

This forces the driver to scan the radio until they find something that comes through clear, and something they like.

Even a fraction of a second with their eyes off of the road could make the difference between arriving at their destination safely or causing an accident.

attorney shaking hands with client

Have You Been Involved In A Truck Accident?

These are just six of the many causes of trucking accidents.

Unfortunately, any time we get in our car and drive on the road, we are putting ourselves at risk of being in an accident.

Even though no fault of our own, we can come across a truck driver who is exhausted, distracted, or driving a truck that is on the verge of a breakdown.

If this happens, or has already happened to you, one of the very first things you need to do is contact a truck accident attorney.

The lawyers at The Roth Firm have years of experience and expertise in helping the victims of truck accidents get the compensation they deserve.

If you've been involved in a truck accident, The Roth Firm is ready to help you today.

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