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FAQ: What are the Main Causes of Truck Accidents?

What are the most common causes of truck accidents? Many accidents result from human factors, such as driver distraction or spending too many hours on the road. Vehicle problems, regulatory issues, and weather may also result in accidents. NST Law provides this guide to the most common causes of truck accidents to inform victims of some of the most frequent grounds for claims for compensation.

Millions of commercial trucks fill the roads across the United States daily. Businesses rely heavily on those trucks to get the goods they need. However, with all this commercial truck traffic comes an increased accident risk. Big trucks have greater odds of a collision than the average passenger vehicle. Common causes of truck accidents include factors under the driver’s control, like distraction or failure to follow the rules of the road. Accidents can also occur due to factors like vehicle maintenance, which should adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. 

If you suffer injuries in a truck accident, NST Law can help you pursue compensation for your injuries. We are strongly committed to assisting truck accident victims, supporting their journey to compensation, and promoting overall safety on the road.

Human Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents

Human behavior is a leading cause of truck accidents. Several human factors raise the risk of truck accidents. Among the most common human errors are the following: 

  • Distraction: Driver distraction contributes to at least 8 percent of deadly accidents. Truck drivers spend long hours on the road daily, which causes high distraction rates.
  • Drowsiness: According to FMSCA regulations, truck drivers can spend up to 11 hours of a 14-hour shift on the road. That can cause extreme drowsiness, leading to a lack of attention or even falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Inebriation: Almost 23 percent of truck drivers have potentially problematic drinking behaviors, including binge drinking or everyday drinking behaviors. Drinking on the road increases the risk of many types of collisions. Inebriation can also occur due to medication use, including cold and flu medicine.
  • Speeding: Truck drivers often have tight delivery deadlines, increasing the risk that they will speed to get there on time. However, speeding not only heightens the risk of an accident, it increases the force behind the accident, leading to more severe injuries. 
  • Ignoring right of way: Truck drivers who force their way into tight spots in a lane or try to go through an intersection even though they do not have the right of way can cause serious collisions. 
  • Failure to follow the rules of the road: Clear rules and regulations govern truck driver behavior, including occasional lower speed limits for trucks than passenger vehicles and lane restrictions. Failure to follow those rules raises the risk of an accident.

Vehicle Factors Leading to Truck Accidents

Big trucks have several shared factors that raise the risk of an accident and make those accidents more devastating. Among these vehicle-related factors are the following: 

  • Blind spots: Big trucks have large blind spots down all four sides. In those blind spots, drivers cannot see the road or nearby traffic. While modern technology, including cameras and sensors, helps reduce blind spot collision risks, many truck drivers can still struggle with vehicles that spend long periods in their blind spots.
  • Heavy weights: Big trucks take longer to stop than the average passenger vehicle due to their greater overall mass. The larger size of a big truck also means they cause more serious injuries in a collision. 
  • Top-heavy designs: Big trucks sit high off the road, raising the risk of a rollover collision. 
  • Risk of jackknife accidents:  A jackknife accident occurs when a big rig’s trailer moves faster than the truck’s cab, causing the vehicle to fold in half at a right angle and sway out of control. The sheer weight and size of tractor-trailers, their high centers of gravity, and shifting loads make them prone to such accidents. 
  • The type of truck: Tanker trucks, for example, have less-stable cargo that heightens the risk of accidents.

Environmental Factors Affecting Truck Accidents

Like other drivers, truck drivers must exercise care when weather and road conditions impede visibility or safety. Truck drivers are responsible for exercising due care to keep their vehicles under control while steering through these hazards. Among the most common environmental factors that contribute to accidents are the following:  

  • Fog can make visibility difficult. While big trucks have good fog lights, drivers still struggle to see clearly and may miss the presence of vehicles, drops, or traffic signs and signals. 
  • Rain can make roads slippery and interfere with visibility.
  • Snow and ice make roads treacherous and slippery. Some truck drivers have to avoid driving in heavy snow conditions. 
  • Highway construction can lead to frequent stop-and-go traffic, which is harder to navigate in a large truck.
  • Poorly maintained roads can cause hazards like potholes and debris that pose further dangers for big trucks. 

A car accident lawyer can help determine what environmental factors contributed to a truck accident and whether the truck driver behaved negligently.

Regulatory and Compliance Issues

Failure to follow FMCSA regulations increases the risk of truck drivers being involved in an accident. Both trucking companies and truck drivers must carefully adhere to those regulations

  • Driver hours: Drivers can spend only a set number of hours on the road during each shift, and trucking companies must carefully monitor and regulate that time. 
  • Drug and alcohol testing: Drivers with a CDL, or commercial driver’s license, must undergo periodic testing to ensure that they remain sober and do not place others in danger. 
  • Vehicle inspections: Vehicles must go through inspections at the beginning and end of every run and undergo deeper maintenance inspections regularly to ensure that they have no obvious issues that could pose a danger on the road. 
  • Maintenance: Big trucks require frequent maintenance to keep them running as effectively as possible. 
  • Pre-employment checks for CDL drivers: If the company does not conduct proper safety checks on its drivers, dangerous drivers could end up on the road in big trucks. 
  • Cargo security: Truck drivers must carefully secure their cargo to keep it from falling off the vehicle. 

The Role of Other Vehicles in Truck Accidents

Other drivers also need to exercise care around big trucks. Drivers who fail to take adequate precautions may end up causing a truck accident. Causes of truck accidents include:

  • Pulling over in front of the truck with too little room for the truck driver to slow down or stop safely
  • Ignoring right of way
  • Lingering in the truck driver’s blind spot
  • Following too close to the back of a big truck
  • Speeding around big trucks

Drivers who exercise negligent behavior on the road may bear partial liability for the accident, lowering their personal injury verdicts and settlements or preventing them from pursuing compensation for their injuries. 

Consequences of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents can have immense consequences, including the following:

  • Serious injuries: The greater mass of big trucks leads to more severe injuries than passenger vehicle collisions. 
  • Property damage: Truck accidents can damage all involved vehicles and the truck’s cargo.
  • Lost income opportunities: Truck accident victims may have to stay out of work while they recover from their accidents. 
  • Suffering: Often, truck accidents cause substantial suffering, including physical pain, loss of independence, and inability to participate in activities the victim once enjoyed. 

Why Are Trucking Accidents a Serious Issue?

Trucking accidents cause severe property damage, injuries, and loss of life. In the aftermath of truck accidents, victims can end up dealing with severe limitations and ongoing financial strain. Truck accident lawsuits often lead to high-paying verdicts and settlements.

Prevention and Safety Measures

Avoiding truck accidents falls on the truck driver, the trucking company, and the drivers who share the road with big trucks. Trucking companies must properly train, monitor, and prepare their drivers and make sure they take care of necessary vehicle maintenance. Truck drivers and other drivers on the road should share the road fairly, including carefully following the rules of the road.

Contact NST Law if You Suffered Injuries in a Truck Accident

Understanding the most common causes of truck accidents and taking proactive steps toward prevention are crucial for ensuring road safety. Stay informed, drive responsibly, and seek help when needed. If you’ve suffered injuries in a truck accident, contact NST Law for a free consultation to provide more information about your right to compensation.

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Client Successes
Obtained in tractor-trailer accident case for a husband and wife that suffered traumatic injuries.
Recovered in car accident case against construction company in which our client suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Received for a woman injured in car accident while on the job, who sustained numerous fractures and underwent several surgeries.