The 6 Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Date: May 23, 2014

The latest statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) show that over 33,000 people died as the result of a vehicle accident in 2012. Vehicle accidents involving trucks accounted for over 3,900 of those fatalities. With hundreds of thousands of accidents on our roadways each year, many involving trucks, truck collisions are known to be the most dangerous because of the size and weight of a large truck.

If you were to weigh a fully loaded commercial semi-truck, it would likely come in at over 80,000 pounds! A standard passenger vehicle only weighs about 4,000 pounds so it’s easy to see who would win in this type of collision. In addition, trucks can be up to 75 feet in length making them less maneuverable and slower to start and stop than other vehicles traveling the roadways. For these reasons, collisions with large trucks are often fatal.

Here are some common reasons for truck collisions:

1. Driver Fatigue – For trucking companies, time is money. For this reason, drivers are often pushed to work as much as legal limits will allow. Motivated by increased earnings or incentives to drive more miles, drivers sometimes take unnecessary, dangerous risks such as driving without breaks. This leads to fatigue and increased potential for accidents.

2. Distracted Driving – Though Federal law prohibits the use of cell phones in the cab of a commercial truck, some companies still encourage the behavior by requiring drivers to check in via cell phone or other company installed equipment. Because some drivers are concerned about meeting deadlines, they don’t pull over to make these calls, increasing the risk of accidents.

3. Drunk Driving – The NTSB reports a very disturbing statistic: Despite increased awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, the number of fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired large truck drivers has actually increased. If you or a family member is involved in a large truck accident, make sure the driver is tested for impairment.

4. Aggressive or Unsafe Driving – Truck drivers can often be under pressure to meet tight deadlines. This can lead to bad driving decisions. Aggressive driving and speeding are hallmarks of a driver under pressure.

5. Speeding – Speeding deserves a separate mention as a cause of truck accidents because there are specific laws regarding truck drivers who cause an accident by speeding. If excessive speed is a factor, drivers can be charged with aggravated or gross negligence that carries the possibility of criminal charges.

6. Unsafe Roadway – The truck driver is not always at fault. A large portion of accidents that occur in the United States are due to poorly maintained roadways. Unsafe construction zones, poor lighting, lack of traffic controls or insufficient merging space can become factors in an accident. The combination of large trucks and dangerous driving conditions greatly increase the odds of a serious accident.

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, determining the cause is an important step in preserving your legal rights.

Paul Oven
Paul started as a Law Clerk with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, L.L.P. while attending the University of Scranton in 1990. After completing law school in 1995, he started as an Associate in the Scranton/Moosic office immediately and became a Partner in 2000.