Vehicle accidents of any type always carry the potential for grim outcomes. But when a car is involved in an accident with a large truck, such as a semi, tanker or 18-wheeler, the outcome is especially likely to be serious, if not fatal. Smaller vehicles hardly stand a chance against larger trucks that outweigh them by many thousands of pounds—and unfortunately, many times, the truck is to blame for the accident.
One of the most common truck accident causes is driver error due to fatigue, inexperience, or driving under the influence. Other common truck accident causes include equipment failure, speeding, unsafe highway or weather conditions, and trucking company policies that may prevent alert, well-rested drivers.
What Truck Driver Accident Statistics Show
According to the Federation of American Scientists, rates of truck accidents, injuries and fatalities have been rising since 2009. This rise led to federal regulations which went into effect in 2013 that were intended to limit truck sizes, as well as truck drivers’ time spent on the road, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has since moved to suspend many of those regulations. Most recently, in March 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) abandoned its proposed “restart rule,” which would have required truck drivers to take a 34-hour rest period at least once per week.
The FMCSA has also proposed other rules that have faced opposition and have yet to become law, such as stricter training standards for drivers and trucks being equipped with speed limiters to prevent speeding on roadways. Both drivers and motor carriers have protested regulations like these due to the constant push for greater productivity and wages. The suspension of these regulations, however, may contribute to truck drivers spending longer hours on the road in longer, heavier trucks, both of which can put truck drivers and other vehicles at greater risk of being involved in a serious or even deadly accident.
Common Truck Accident Causes
In the early 2000s, the FMCSA, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, conducted a study examining the causes of nearly 1,000 serious crashes involving large trucks that occurred across 17 states. According to the results of this study, the leading causes of truck accidents include: brake problems (29%), speeding (23%), unfamiliar with the roadway (22%) and roadway problems (20%). Driver fatigue, drug use, and inexperience were also contributing factors.
Overall, there are five primary causes of truck accidents:
Truck driver impairment due to fatigue or driving under the influence
Spending long hours on the road leads to fatigue, which impairs alertness and driving ability; fatigue can also push some drivers to rely on stimulants and other substances to stay alert, despite the fact that these also can impair their ability to drive.
A piece of a truck’s mechanical or electrical equipment can fail, which can result in a catastrophic injury. Brake failure or even a tire blowout can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in a devastating crash.
Highway or weather conditions that make driving less safe for everyone
The heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes for the driver to bring that vehicle to a complete stop, especially when roadways are wet or iced over. Similarly, sudden slow-downs and stops necessitated by construction, accidents or other roadway hazards are more difficult for longer, heavier vehicles to navigate or respond to quickly.
Exceeding recommended speeds is a major factor in many roadway accidents, whether involving trucks, cars or other vehicles.
Trucking company policies
Some company policies push drivers to spend longer hours on the road, thereby creating unsafe conditions for everyone. Many truck drivers are subject to pressures such as strict deadlines and low hourly pay, leading them to push onward on the road instead of stopping to rest.
What to Do if You or Someone You Love Is Involved in a Truck Accident
When you or someone you know has been involved in an accident involving a truck, the injuries can be serious and the resulting medical bills can be staggering—not to mention the damage to your vehicle and any wages lost while you’re out of work. When there is a tragic loss of life due to a truck accident, the financial and emotional toll can be even more severe.
The personal injury attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger are compassionate and experienced in the area of truck accident injuries. We take a personalized approach to pursuing the compensation our clients deserve after experiencing a devastating truck accident. Whether you personally or someone you know was involved, call Slack Davis Sanger for legal advice on your particular situation. Our attorneys will help you fight for the fair compensation you deserve.