The Leading Causes Of Truck Accidents
Accidents involving commercial trucks are usually far more dangerous than a typical motor vehicle accident. This is because of a number of factors, though mainly due to the weight and the massive size of the truck. These types of accidents are serious in nature and often result in death or serious personal injuries to the passenger vehicle occupants. Though, there are some measures you can take to help prevent truck accidents when you are on the road. In order to do so, it is important to understand the situations that most often lead to truck accidents so you can be prepared.
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Passenger Vehicle Driver Error
Negligence on the road is common among all drivers and, while truck drivers are no exception to this rule, it may surprise you to learn that studies show approximately 81% of trucking accidents are actually caused by the passenger vehicles.
Other causes include:
• Driver failing to pass a truck properly
• Driver’s failure to compensate for a truck’s air resistance
• Driver failing to pay attention to movements of the truck (i.e driving in their blind spot or not noticing when they are changing lanes)
• Making a left turn in front of the truck
• Changing lanes dangerously
• Failure to signal
• Driving between two trucks
One of the most common causes of trucking accidents is motor vehicles traveling in a truck’s blind spot. This is avoidable if you learn about the four most common blind spots. They are:
a. The front of the truck cab
b. Behind driver side window
c. On the right side of the truck
d. Behind driver storage area
The Truck Driver Error
Many truck drivers are on the road for hours at a time and there is a chance for mistakes to happen due to truck driver error. Some may drive recklessly, drive while distracted, be under the influence of alcohol, or become tired behind the wheel.
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute — a leader in truck-related crash research, says ATA — studied 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes to determine fault. 81 percent of the time, car drivers were assigned at fault, says the study, versus 27 percent for truck drivers. Learn More.
Studies have shown that driving while fatigued can be just like driving while under the influence. Many truck crashes take place between midnight and 3 AM and due to this, an Hours of Service (HOS) regulation was passed by the Federal Government to address this problem. The idea was to limit commercial drivers’ time during in which they could operate their vehicles. For example, a driver that carries products is required to rest for at least 10 consecutive hours before they are allowed to drive up to a maximum of 11 hours. Such drivers also must sleep for 8 hours and take another break for 2 hours.
It is more difficult to stop a speeding truck since large trucks take longer to slow down than a regular vehicle. A truck that is speeding on a slick roadway is more prone to lose traction. This truck could then start hydroplaning and sliding on the road and into other vehicles. Trucks that speed fast around curves are also more likely to lose control compared to drivers who are following the speed limit. Once the truck driver loses control, his load may shift which then causes the truck to rollover or jackknife.
Truck drivers have a schedule for delivering items, but sometimes may fall behind. In order to get back on schedule, drivers may engage in activities that are considered visual, manual, and cognitive distractions to make up the time. This typically means multitasking and partaking in other activities while driving. Many truck drivers may eat behind the wheel in order to catch up on time. Truck drivers also are known to make use of a CB radio, may attempt to navigate using a GPS system while driving, talk on their cell phone, smoke cigarettes, and some even shave while driving! Billboards, other vehicles, and nearby landmarks are the three main distractions outside the truck which contribute to the estimated 11,000 truck crashes that have taken place over a three-year span. All of these things are well-known causes of distracted driving accidents.
Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs, Medication Or Alcohol
Truck drivers will sometimes drink too much on a break or before their shift starts and then operate their truck under the influence. This is considered criminal and negligent behavior. A trucker’s blood-alcohol level must be below .04 percent, pursuant to Commercial Drivers’ License requirements. The .04 percent threshold is easy to reach and is set at this point for good reason. Authorities do not want truckers driving even with the smallest amount of alcohol in their system. Alcohol is known to impair bodily functions and judgment.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Trucks drive many miles in a day. This can lead to a high rate of wear and tear on these trucks that require continual maintenance. Some main maintenance issues include:
Worn out brake pads
The failure to regularly have brake pads checked and replaced after a certain number of miles is a common cause for truck brake failure.
Truck drivers are expected to check their tires before beginning every drive. Trucking companies take on even more responsibility than the individual driver. They are obligated to replace tires that are worn out or defective. Unfortunately, this does not happen all the time which then leads to tire blowouts. Blown-out tires are one of the leading causes of truck accidents.
The trucking industry has very specific rules by which truckers must abide when it comes to a commercial truck’s bed. There are length, height, width, and weight restrictions and limitations on the size of the load placed on the bed and also special methods to secure the cargo for transportation. Mistakes during the loading process can cause a load to pull into another traffic lane, resulting in an accident. The balance of the truck can be thrown off if the cargo is overloaded, is not properly loaded or if it is not balanced.
Drivers are expected to also check their truck at the start of their shift and to file a maintenance report. Unfortunately, this step is not always completed and skipping this can sometimes be catastrophic.
Failure of Equipment
Since trucks have a more sophisticated braking system compared to regular motor vehicles, even the slightest issue can cause the entire system to fail. This is different than faulty brake pads in that this is more of a design defect or product liability matter than a maintenance issue with the truck itself.
Many companies fail to properly maintain their trucks which can result in equipment failure when that equipment is needed most. Manufacturers can also be held responsible for any negligent product defects that result in an accident. The parts manufacturers, the trucking company itself that sold the truck, the truck manufacturers, and the mechanic/installer who completed the truck repairs can all be held accountable. Even though safety inspections are routine in the trucking industry, some trucks pass inspection when they shouldn’t. This means there are unsafe trucks on the road and there are accidents happening that could have been avoided.
Trucks travel through the night and in all kinds of inclement weather. Training and preparation to drive in such conditions should not be lightly regarded. Snow, ice, rain, fog, sleet, wind, and hail are all conditions that can cause the driver to lose control of the truck, resulting in major accidents.
Lack Of Skill
A lack of experience in operating a large commercial truck is often the cause of many trucking accidents. A commercial driver’s license is not too hard to obtain and a new truck driver will almost certainly require an adjustment period when developing the skills to maneuver such a large truck in challenging weather conditions and along difficult and steep terrain.
Get A Trucking Accident Attorney With Expertise
Having an Orlando trucking accident attorney at your side will be able to help you navigate the legalities of your case and offer the guidance you may need. For the best truck accident lawyer Orlando has to offer, Injury Assistance Law Firm is here for you. We have served many clients after their truck accidents and we can make sure we give your case the attention and care it needs.