Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

When a passenger vehicle and a commercial truck collide, the consequences can be catastrophic and even fatal due to the sheer size and power of a tractor-trailer.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Georgia, you know the terrible hardship that it places upon your family. The pain is physical, emotional and financial. But there is help. 

Our Atlanta attorneys are leaders in the legal field with a nationwide reputation for handling trucking cases. Fried Rogers Goldberg devotes the majority of its practice to handling only trucking cases. With over 50 years of combined experience, our firm has been able to secure multi-million dollar lawsuits for victims of trucking accidents and their families. This compensation allows them to move on in life and build a better future. 

It is this knowledge and experience that instills confidence in our clients. We are fully invested in every case we handle. If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident, our attorneys litigate trucking cases in Georgia and nationwide.

Truck Accident Statistics

Truck accident statistics highlight the common causes of truck accidents and show how an accident involving a commercial vehicle differs from a passenger vehicle. For example, a speeding accident involving two passenger cars is not the same as an accident where an 80,000-pound truck is involved. The weight and mass of the truck, combined with the type and volume of the cargo, all play a significant role.

According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, there were 153 crash fatalities in 2012 involving large trucks.

Driver fatigue, impaired driving and improperly trained drivers are responsible for a number of crashes every year. Statistically speaking, a combined total of 27% of accidents were caused by either lack of driver training or driver fatigue. With approximately 3.2 million truck drivers in the U.S., accidents are bound to happen.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a comprehensive study in 2007, which revealed that approximately 5,000 people die every year on U.S. highways due to truck accidents. These accidents injure nearly 150,000 people. Excessive speed was the contributing factor in 18% of crashes.

Truck Accidents Caused By Passenger Vehicle Drivers

Truck drivers not only have to worry about their own driving abilities, but also the driving skills of the other drivers on the road. There are extra precautions all drivers should take when the traffic flow includes semi-trucks or trailers.

A few of the most common causes of accidents by passenger vehicle drivers include:

Changing lanes abruptly or improper merging in front of a semi. Large trucks need much more time and distance to decrease their speed than a regular car. Swerving in front of a truck driver can easily lead to an accident due to a limited responsive time for the truck driver.

Unsafe passing. On highways, it may be tough to gauge how much room there is when trying to pass a semi. Drivers should always avoid passing on hills or curves and look for plenty of room to pass a truck safely without there being a need to immediately brake.

Driving in a blind spot. If you’ve driven behind a semi-truck before, then you may have seen a sticker that says “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Take this seriously. If you are in their blind spot, they may have limited or zero visibility. It’s never a good idea to follow another vehicle so closely at any time, but a large truck needs even more room to maneuver.

Allow for wide turns. On city streets, it can be tough for trucks to make sharp turns. Even turns deemed “normal” for a passenger car can be a challenge for a semi due to its length. A driver should never try to race by a truck trying to turn first or block the area around the perimeter of where it wants to turn.

Truck Accidents Caused by Commercial Truck Drivers

There is specific training a person must complete before becoming certified as a commercial truck driver. Even when a truck driver earns these credentials, extra safety precautions are still necessary due to the size and weight of trucks they will be driving.

Some trucks also contain cargo that may be hazardous if spilled on the road or involved in an accident. There is a lot to consider as a commercial truck driver, so it’s important that safety remains a top priority.

Common causes of truck accidents from commercial drivers include:

Truck Driver Tiredness and Fatigue

Federal regulations limits the amount of time a commercial truck driver can log driving per week. There is a maximum 11-hour driving limit allowed for truckers carrying cargo after a consecutive 10 hours off duty. This is to help prevent driver fatigue and give drivers a chance to get the adequate amount of sleep or rest they need. Often scheduled routes included hundreds, if not thousands, of miles, and this can wear on even the most experienced drivers.

Poor or Improper Truck Maintenance

Trucking companies are responsible for proper maintenance and upkeep of their vehicles. All maintenance checks must be documented and a truck company can be held responsible for a trucking accident if faulty equipment is found to be to blame. This equipment malfunction can mean anything from faulty brakes to tire blowouts.

Equipment Failure

Just like any other vehicle, equipment failure can occur due to seasonal elements, poorly constructed roads or a variety of other factors. Inclement weather conditions such as ice or snow can be extremely dangerous for large trucks on the road due to shift in traffic patterns and a possible inability to brake.

Distracted Driving

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, often in remote locations, which can lead drivers to want to multitask. Even when there is less traffic on the road, truck drivers need to focus their full attention on the road, and any distractions become hazardous. One of the most common causes of distracted driving is operating a mobile device while at the wheel. Talking, texting or even entering directions into a GPS system are all enough for a driver to take their eyes off the road long enough to put themselves and others in danger.

Texting Truck Drivers

In many states, texting while driving is against the law, and it is banned nationwide for drivers of commercial trucks. Despite the law, this doesn’t keep some drivers from continuing to text while driving during their shifts. Texting while driving increases the chances for an accident significantly. The increase of risk is also heightened when texting is used in combination with a fatigued driver or when a driver is navigating an unfamiliar road.

 

Speeding Truck Drivers

Speeding is a common cause of truck accidentsThose who exceed the speed limit put others on the road at risk because they are not driving with the flow of traffic. This is a high cause for concern with truckers especially since the vehicle they’re driving weighs nearly 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle. Commercial truck drivers often speed because they are on strict timelines.

Unsafe Driving Practices

Truck drivers log thousands of miles every week. Long stretches of time on the road can become monotonous and may cause some drivers to become less safe with how they operate their vehicles. In addition to speeding, unsafe driving practices include:

• Following another vehicle too closely
• Road rage
• Failure to check for blind spots
• Frequent lane changes
• Failure to use turn signals

Other Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Inadequate or improper training

If a driver has not had the proper training in how to handle a commercial truck, defensive driving and other safety elements, then the driver will pose a hazard on the road.

Unfamiliarity with roads or inexperience driving

Any person traveling an unknown road can face driving challenges. Now imagine if that person was driving an 80,000-pound vehicle for the first time and didn’t realize how narrow, curvy or rough a certain road was. The combination of circumstances can be disastrous.

Overloading

Driving a commercial truck is far different than navigating traffic in a passenger car. The amount of cargo these trucks carry have a huge impact. There are regulations that determine how much weight a commercial truck can carry because, if overloaded, it can be detrimental to the trucker’s driving and the vehicle itself. Tires can experience blowouts or the truck could jackknife due to too much weight. Improperly secured cargo is also dangerous and can lead to injury and possible fatal accidents.

Truck Accident Causes

Road Construction

Road construction projects can cause delays in traffic. These literal roadblocks often limit drivers to one lane of traffic. Some drivers may try to maneuver around the construction by driving on the shoulder or in the median, but doing so can easily cause an accident to occur.

Weather and Road Conditions

Not all highways or roadways are ideal for driving, especially for large trucks. Unpaved or pothole-ridden roads can make it extra difficult for drivers. Narrow lanes or highways without shoulders can become hazardous. Adding poor weather conditions, such as sleet or snow, can further put all drivers at risk.

Hire a Trucking Attorney with Experience

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you want to have a lawyer who has experience with these specific type of cases. Trucking accidents are handled much differently than accidents that involve only passenger vehicles.

In addition to the truck driver, the trucking company is often also involved. Our attorneys have the legal skills and expertise necessary to fully investigate trucking accidents and determine what a fair compensation is for victims of trucking accidents. Fried Rogers Goldberg is known nationwide for its history of securing successful verdicts for clients with many reaching seven- to eight-figure settlements.

We know trucking law. Attorneys from across the country refer trucking accident cases to our Atlanta-based firm due to our legal reputation. If you have sustained a trucking accident injury, contact our attorneys today. There is no obligation and a case evaluation is free. We want to help you seek the compensation and justice you deserve.