When you are driving on the highway, commercial trucks can be some of the most intimidating vehicles to share the road with, regardless of how long you have been driving. The size of a commercial truck makes an accident that involves one particularly dangerous.
Truck Accidents Statistics
Yearly, approximately 5,000 truck accidents will lead to death and an additional 495,000 will result in injury. Not only will the injury and death totals be high in a commercial truck accident, but so will the costs associated with a truck accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal accidents in 2017, which was a 9% increase from the previous year.
Most of the deaths in truck accidents are passengers of nearby cars. You might do everything in your power to be a safe driver in order to avoid an accident with a commercial truck, but one of these five common causes of truck accidents may result in you becoming a victim of a commercial trucking accident.
Commercial truckers are subjected to very tight schedules. They can be forced to pay high fines or have their pay docked if they do not arrive on time at their destination with their load intact.
Unfortunately, the extreme pressure put upon commercial truck drivers results in drivers who are overworked. Many drivers end up pushing their bodies to the limit by driving very long hours and extreme distances on very little sleep.
Even on the rare occasions truck drivers are able to get a little bit of sleep, most of it is not high-quality sleep. Instead, truck drivers are typically taking three to four hour-long breaks at rest stops or parking lots of large department stores.
As a result of limited and poor quality sleep, overworked truck drivers frequently develop severe fatigue. This fatigue can cause accidents in three primary ways:
- Loss of concentration
- Reduction of coordination
- Falling asleep at the wheel
Speeding and Overtaking
The constant pressure to get to the next stop quickly places severe pressure on most commercial truck drivers. Many of the designated time periods allotted to the drivers to reach their next destination are not enough time, yet their very job can be on the line if they are late. Along their route, they may end up facing unpredictable delays, such as bad weather or traffic jams.
To make up for the time that they have lost, commercial truck drivers may increase their speed. While the potential dangers associated with a speeding passenger car driver are large, the potential dangers related to a speeding commercial truck driver are even greater.
Accidents caused by commercial truckers’ speeding may occur from one of the following reasons:
- Excessive truck speed causes smaller cars to veer off the road and crash
- Speeding reduces the truckers’ reaction times, which reduces their ability to slow down, stop, or veer off the road safely.
- Trucks traveling at an increased speed experience a shift in cargo. The cargo shifting can cause the truck to become unbalanced.
- Speeding makes turning more difficult for trucks, and a truck driver may over-correct or overshoot their turn.
Loss of Control
One of the reasons that truck drivers need additional training to learn how to drive their trucks is because a commercial truck can be much more difficult to control than a passenger car. When a truck driver loses control of their vehicle, a few dangerous scenarios can take place.
- Rollovers: This type of truck accident is one of the most common types of commercial truck accidents. This occurs when a driver loses control of the truck which begins to slide sideways. Once a truck hits any type of obstruction, such as another vehicle or a guardrail, a rollover may occur. If a truck takes a corner far too sharply, it may also cause a rollover to occur.
- Swinging turns: Trucks that cause an accident while in the middle of a turn are known as a swinging turn accident. This can happen when a truck swings too wide in the middle of a turn or when a car squeezes too closely next to a truck making a turn.
- Poor tire maintenance: Truckers are supposed to make sure that their trucks are in the best possible condition before hitting the road. However, many truck drivers skip the important step of performing maintenance on their vehicles in order to keep to their transportation schedules. As a result, tire blowouts are a frequent occurrence. When a tire blows out, it can cause the driver to lose control and have a very serious accident.
- Failed brakes: Although trucks have specialized brakes that are designed to help them stop within 100 feet while driving at a maximum of 40 mph, trucks can still experience a dangerous accident when their brakes fail while they are driving.
Transporting cargo is the important reason that all commercial trucks take to the highways. Truck drivers are trained to take careful notice of their cargo and make sure that it is safe at all times. Unfortunately, an accident related to cargo can still happen.
These are a few of the most common causes of cargo-related accidents:
- Low liquid loads: If a commercial truck is transporting a liquid, gas or oil load that is less than 75% full, the liquid can splash inside of the trailer. This causes the truck to swerve back and forth. At high speeds, swerving can result in the driver losing control of their truck.
- Failure to secure cargo: Whether cargo is large or small, it needs to be packed and stacked properly. This includes making sure that the weight is equally distributed across the vehicle. If the weight is distributed unequally, sudden turns or stops can cause an accident.
- Overloaded cargo: Most commercial trucks cannot carry more than 80,000 pounds but truckers rushing to meet their goals may go above that limit. Trucks that carry more cargo than they are supposed to can easily result in the driver losing control.
- Falling cargo: If you’ve ever been behind a truck filled with cargo and worried that debris might hit you, you are justified in your concern. A truck that has not been properly packed may lose some of its cargo, and this is a frequent cause of accidents for cars behind or beside the truck.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Both legal and illegal drugs can cause truck drivers to have accidents. Some prescription drugs have unexpected effects on drivers of automobiles, including increased sleepiness and an inability to concentrate. Other drugs may be taken by truck drivers who are trying to increase their ability to stay awake. These drugs can have a negative impact on a driver’s reaction time and ability to drive safely.
Contact Our Truck Accident Attorneys to File a Lawsuit
If you’ve been the victim of a truck driver accident, an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you determine whether you may be able to receive financial compensation. Contact The Eichholz Law Firm to discuss your case with a qualified attorney immediately.
Call the skilled personal injury lawyers from The Eichholz Law Firm today at (855) 551-1019 or fill out an online form.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2017”, United States Department of Transportation, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2017. Accessed June 13, 2019.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study – Analysis Brief”, United States Department of Transportation, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief. Accessed June 13, 2019.
- Nolo. “Trucking Accidents: Common Causes & Liability”, Nolo, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/trucking-accidents-common-causes-liability-30156.html. Accessed June 13, 2019.