The U.S trucking industry is massive. Over 70% of goods in the United States are transported via trucks. In 2021, 13% of fatalities in road accidents involved large trucks. A typical 18-wheeler truck weighs multiple times more than a passenger vehicle. Because of their enormous size and weight, collisions between trucks and other vehicles are usually catastrophic.
Truck accidents are more deadly for occupants of other vehicles. According to a report from National Safety Council, in 2020, 4,965 persons lost their lives in crashes involving trucks. Of that number, 71% were occupants of other vehicles.
6 Causes of Truck Accidents You Should Know About
There are several reasons truck accidents happen, including:
1. Driver Fatigue
Driving while fatigued is a leading cause of truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that 13% of truck drivers are fatigued at the time of the crash. Inadequate sleep, physical and mental exertions that may not be work-related, and long work hours are some causes of driver fatigue.
Driver fatigue has similar effects as intoxication. A tired driver will often have a slow response time, an inability to focus or concentrate, reduced hazard awareness, and impaired judgment — all of which are associated with intoxication. A fatigued driver may be drowsy and fall asleep behind the wheel. This may cause them to lose control of the truck, resulting in a crash.
While federal regulation limits how long a driver can work, drivers are often under pressure and tight deadlines that make them falsify the records in their logbooks.
If you have been injured in a truck accident involving driver fatigue, you can recover damages from the truck driver or their employer.
2. Reckless or Distracted Driving
Distraction while driving has long been identified as a leading cause of commercial truck accidents. To curtail distracted driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has passed strict regulations forbidding truck drivers from engaging in distracting activities while driving.
Distraction can happen in many ways, but they fall into three categories:
- Visual: Visual distraction involves anything that makes the driver take their eyes off the road, even if it’s for a second or less. Glancing at a car occupant, looking at a map or navigation device, or even reading a billboard are different forms of visual distraction.
- Manual: Manual distractions take truckers’ hands off of the wheels or feet off of the pedals. Eating while driving, rummaging inside compartments or bags, tuning a radio, and removing a shoe are examples of manual distractions.
- Cognitive: Cognitive distraction happens when the driver’s focus is not fully on the road. A lot of things can distract a trucker's mind, including phone conversations using a hands-free device, listening to the radio, and domestic crises.
3. Tight Time Constraints
Trucking companies make money from conveying goods within the agreed time. So, truck drivers are often in a hurry to deliver cargo to their destination.
When drivers are under pressure to deliver goods within the scheduled time, they’ll speed or work beyond the number of hours they are legally allowed to. Also, many drivers are paid only when they complete a job and not by the hour. This kind of payment system means that they are highly motivated to complete jobs as fast as possible.
If a truck accident happens because a driver was under an unreasonable time constraint to deliver goods, you can hold the driver's employer responsible.
4. Improper Vehicle Maintenance
Commercial trucks have complex systems that need to be frequently inspected and maintained to keep them in optimal condition. Regular inspection can reveal problems that, if attended to, will prevent issues that may cause an accident.
To keep in good shape, FMCSA has regulations providing for regular inspection of trucks at the end of every driving day. Trucking drivers and drivers are also obligated to keep a record of every inspection and repair. However, some trucking companies and drivers fail to comply with these regulations, which may lead to catastrophic outcomes.
Truck drivers should also inspect their trucks before every new trip and inform the trucking company of any issue that needs urgent attention. When drivers or trucking companies ignore any warning signs, the result could be disastrous.
The point of failure may also come from a maintenance company’s failure to repair the truck properly. As a result, the maintenance company will be responsible for any injuries if an accident occurs.
5. Dangerous Road Conditions
Poor road condition is another cause of truck driving accidents. Truck accidents, such as rollovers, are more likely in dangerous road conditions.
Some conditions that increase the likelihood of semi-truck accidents include:
- Steep roads
- Poorly maintained roads
- Narrow or sharp curves
- Narrow roads that don’t have shoulders
- Poorly lit roads
- Broken traffic signs
- Poorly maintained construction areas
6. Driver Errors
Truck accidents may also happen because of driver errors. Driver error is any driver’s behavior that impairs their ability to drive well.
There are several causes of driver errors, including:
- Distracted driving: Any form of distraction while driving can lead to tragic consequences. A trucker’s full attention should be on the road. Thus, they should avoid any activities that may distract them, including texting and eating.
- Driver fatigue: A tired driver has reduced response time, impaired judgment, and in severe cases may even fall asleep.
- Overspeeding: A truck will have a more severe impact if a collision occurs while the vehicle is overspeeding. An overspeeding driver may fail to notice dangers and stop early.
- Driving while intoxicated: Alcohol or drug use while on duty affects a driver’s judgment, making them more prone to error.
- Blind spots: If a driver fails to stay alert and monitor vehicles that come in their blind spots, it can lead to a crash.
Speak to a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Truck accidents are complex and often involve intricate legal issues and multiple parties. If you have been in a truck accident, a truck accident lawyer can help you recover compensation for your injuries. A truck accident attorney will help you discover the cause of the accident and hold those responsible liable.
The truck accident lawyers at Dunn Sheehan have years of experience dealing with truck accident cases. Let us help you rebuild your life. Contact us to see the difference we can make in your truck accident case.