Large commercial trucks, semi-tractor trailers, and delivery vans are responsible for over 4000 deaths every year in the U.S. Truck collisions cause huge losses involving property, productivity, and personal injuries. Federal agencies maintaining statistics show that commercial trucks make up just eight percent of highway traffic in the United States. However, trucks are involved in over 11 percent of all fatalities occurring on American roadways. In recent decades, serious big rig accidents have increased over 20 percent, more than any other group of drivers on U.S. roads.
Leading Truck Crash Causes
A few years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an eye-opening report indicating actual causes of truck accidents. Below are the most common causes from the report. These include:
- Truck Driver Drug Use – Nearly 20 percent of all truck accident collisions causing injuries and fatalities were the direct result of illicit or prescription medications that affected the trucker’s reaction time. OTC (over-the-counter) medications also contribute to serious accidents, when truckers use the drugs to stay awake, stay alert, or stay well.
- Excessive Speed – Driving at an excessive rate is a common cause (over 23 percent) of crashes involving large commercial trucks. Because of the excessive weight of the commercial vehicle (up to 80,000 pounds), the force of the impact is substantially more deadly for the driver and other motorists with every mile per hour of increased speed.
- Unfamiliarity – Truckers are often unfamiliar when traveling in new areas, or a long never traveled stretches of highway. Nearly 22 percent of all truck accident involves truckers not familiar with the streets, freeways and side roads.
- Inexperience – Even though truckers are trained to make safe turns, and check blind spots, many are inexperience, or simply forget the training they received. Nearly one out of every seven truck accidents is the result of the truckers failure to properly check blind spots before changing lanes, backing up or turning.
- Driver Fatigue – Nearly one out of every eight accidents involving trucks causing serious damage and injuries is the direct result of driver fatigue. In fact, truckers driving longer than eight hours in the day are at double the risk of causing an accident, compared to truckers who drive fewer hours.
- Evasion Failures – Circumventing problems on the roadway is often a challenge for many inexperienced or fatigued drivers. Large commercial trucks are challenging to maneuver, and a trucker can easily underestimate the amount of evasive action required to stop in time, maneuver out of the way, or avoid a catastrophic event. Failing to take proper action can cause serious injuries and fatalities of other motorists on the roadway.
- Road Rage – While road rage is often considered a problem between passenger vehicles, aggressive driving around large commercial vehicles represents seven percent of truck accidents. Any motorists partaking in road rage behavior can easily cause a deadly crash when involving a semi-truck trailer, delivery van or large commercial truck.
- Equipment Failure – Many truck accidents are the result of equipment failure including defective tires, mechanical issues, or poorly maintained braking systems. The FMCSA mandates that each trucker and trucking company perform routine pre-trip inspections and proper maintenance of their large commercial vehicles throughout the year. When a truck is performing properly, worn-out tires and mechanical failures are rarely an issue. Unfortunately, many inspection requirements are ignored.
- Improper Loading – Improperly loaded cargo can easily cause a safety hazard when the weight is unevenly distributed or incorrectly configured on the truck’s trailer. Imbalanced loads can cause a truck roll over, or allow the cargo to become loose, falling onto the roadway and onto busy traffic lanes.
Trucking companies can often be at fault for an accident by setting unrealistic deadlines for truckers. The companies can compel truckers to drive far too many hours or at great speed to meet their schedule. Many times, the truck accident cause is not obviously apparent. However, with the skills of a seasoned truck accident lawyer providing legal representation, truck accident victims can pursue adequate compensation for their injuries, damages, pain and suffering.