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The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

| February 21, 2020

Trucks present unique dangers to other vehicles on the road around them. Not only are trucks much larger than typical passenger vehicles, but the physics governing their movement are also different—they have higher centers of gravity, they take up more space on the road, and they are composed of two separate, independently movable parts (the cab and the trailer). They are also much heavier. A truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average midsize passenger vehicle weighs only about 5,000 pounds. What this means is that collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles can cause much more damage and injury than collisions between two passenger vehicles.

While the vast majority of truck drivers on US roads are much safer drivers than the average driver (due to their training and government regulations of the trucking industry), they are still human beings and are prone to making mistakes. Below are some of the most common reasons why truck accidents occur.

Driver Error

Driver error is, by far, the most common cause of truck accidents, accounting for 87% of all truck accidents in a government study of the issue. Accidents caused by driver error can be further broken down into four sub-categories, according to the study:

  • Non-performance (12%): The driver becomes physically unable to drive the vehicle due to falling asleep, suffering a medical emergency, or otherwise being physically impaired.
  • Recognition (28%): The drover loses focus on the road by daydreaming or getting distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.
  • Decision (38%): The driver lacks proper situational awareness, such as driving too fast, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, or following too closely.
  • Performance (9%): The driver loses control of the vehicle through panicking, overcompensating, or exercising poor directional control.

Improper Vehicle Maintenance

Trucks require much more maintenance and upkeep than passenger vehicles, and there are many parties responsible for ensuring that trucks stay in good condition—the trucking company, the maintenance crew, and the driver. If the responsible parties are not diligent, a small issue (such as a worn brake pad) can slip through the cracks and cause a major accident.

Inclement Weather

Driving in snow, rain, sleet, and thunderstorms is difficult for all drivers, but, for truck drivers, it is especially perilous due to the truck’s heavyweight and slow stopping speeds. It takes extensive training for a truck driver to learn how to safely handle such a large, heavy vehicle in inclement weather conditions, and one slip-up can result in disaster.

Unsafe Cargo Loading

Don’t forget that there is cargo inside trucks—cargo that can fall, slide, shift, or otherwise move around and throw the truck off balance at high speeds. While federal regulations limit how much cargo trucks can carry and prescribe special methods of securing it, mistakes can and do occur.

Contact a Waldorf Truck Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by driver error, improper vehicle maintenance, unsafe cargo loading, or any other condition, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to recover for your losses. Contact the Waldorf truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles at 301-705-5006 for a consultation. We can help you and your family get the compensation that you deserve