Whether you call them semi-trucks, semi-trailers, tractor-trailers, big rigs, eighteen-wheelers, or simply semis, due to their massive weight and size, large commercial trucks can cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities when they crash into other vehicles. According to the Department of Transportation, large commercial trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Understanding the common causes of trucking accidents can help you avoid dangerous collisions when you’re driving near a semi-truck. If you ever are involved in a collision with a semi, contact an experienced attorney straightaway to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Truck accidents continue to be a pervasive problem despite safety improvements and advancements in technology. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 3,598 fatal crashes in 2015 with a total of 4,067 fatalities. An additional 83,000 injury crashes occurred involving 116,000 injured victims. While these accidents may be caused by multiple factors, there are several common causes of trucking accidents that are preventable.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Commercial truck drivers must undergo training before they can receive their commercial driver’s license. Despite this training, some drivers will still be involved in trucking accidents. Some of the most common causes of accidents relating to semi-truck drivers include the following:
- Driver fatigue
- Poorly maintained or defective brakes
- Equipment failures
- Improperly secured loads
- Distracted driving
Truck drivers drive for many hours at a time, so it is important that they take at least the minimum required number of breaks and get adequate rest. Because they face pressure from their employers to get their loads to their destinations on time, they may try to doctor their logbooks so that they can drive for more hours than what is allowed. Some drivers also speed, placing others at risk. Semi-trucks take much longer to stop when compared to smaller vehicles. When they are speeding, they may have trouble decelerating and stopping in time when traffic slows in front of them.
Trucking companies are responsible for the repair and maintenance of their fleets. Unfortunately, many trucks are poorly maintained. Brake and equipment failures result in numerous accidents each year. Load securement problems may lead to shifting loads, which can cause truck drivers to lose control or overturn. Semi-trucks may also drop loads on the highway, causing other vehicles to wreck into the spilled products.
Like other drivers, truck drivers are also susceptible to distracted driving. In addition to using cell phones to text or talk, drivers may be distracted when adjusting their electronics, talking to dispatchers, or looking at billboards along the sides of the roads. Other unsafe truck driver behaviors include failing to signal, abrupt lane changes, aggressive driving, and following too closely.
Less Common Causes of Truck Accidents
While perhaps not the most common causes of trucking accidents, other factors can contribute to collisions. Some drivers do not receive adequate training, and their inexperience may cause an accident. Other semi-truck drivers cause accidents because they are unfamiliar with the roads on which they are traveling. Poorly maintained and narrow roads may result in accidents, and some accidents happen in construction zones that require trucks and vehicles to merge into single lanes.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents Caused by Passenger Vehicles
Of course, some accidents involving semi-trucks are not caused by the driver of the truck; other motorists also may cause trucking accidents. Motorists should exercise added caution when they are traveling around large trucks. Passenger vehicle drivers may cause a trucking accident due to one of the following mistakes or miscalculations:
- Driving in blind spots
- Improperly merging in front of large trucks
- Driving too closely behind large trucks
- Abrupt lane changes
- Distracted driving
- Failing to signal with lane changes
- Driving under the influence
Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident?
If you have been seriously injured in a collision with a semi-truck, it is important that you obtain help from a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling these sorts of cases. Because truck accidents typically involve catastrophic injuries, substantial losses, and high insurance policy limits, the insurance and trucking companies often fight them aggressively. Experienced truck accident lawyers can use their knowledge of the law and of common defense tactics to build a strong case for their client. They may use investigators, accident reconstruction experts, and medical experts to help prove liability and the extent of the injuries. By conducting thorough investigations, attorneys can place their clients in better negotiating positions, so that they may recover the maximum possible compensation.
To learn more about your rights, contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave today and schedule a free initial consultation to explore your options. We have successfully recovered compensation in settlements with truck companies, which you can explore in more detail on our Verdicts and Settlements page. We can help you determine the best course of action so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve and the best outcome for your claim.