There are 500,000 trucking accidents per year in the US. Put another way; each American truck driver has a 1-in-8 chance of being involved in a serious accident every year. Preventing these tragedies starts by asking one crucial question: What causes trucking accidents?
While there are many factors in each crash, we’ve put together a few of the most common and most dangerous causes of truck accidents.
Tired driving is a serious issue. Under hours of service regulations, truckers should only operate their vehicles for 11 hours at a time or 14 hours in a single day.
Unfortunately, 40% of truckers admit to driving while fatigued, claiming they face pressure from their fleet controllers to go beyond their hours of service. As a result, 1-in-9 truck accidents are the direct result of a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel.
All parts eventually wear down with use. For truck drivers, that means regular maintenance and frequent replacement parts. After all, these vehicles are often driving thousands of miles per week.
Without regular maintenance, truck parts fail and put both the driver and those around them at serious risk. For example, American highways are littered with discarded tires from commercial trucks. When those tires give out, a 200lb piece of rubber goes flying at the car behind the truck at upwards of 70mph. According to AAA, road debris, like busted tires, causes around 200,000 crashes per year!
Unsafe Passing and Turning
Semi-trucks have an enormous zero-visibility zone around their cab. Anyone attempting to pass a truck may go unseen, even if they can see the driver in the mirrors.
Often, a truck’s turn signals are often only visible directly ahead and directly behind. That means a truck driver must be constantly alert. If they try to merge, not only will they fail to see the driver next to them, but the passing driver may be unaware the truck is trying to change lanes until it is too late.
Turning trucks are also frightening, especially on narrow city streets. If a truck turns too sharply, the car in the next lane could be clipped by the cab, potentially sheering off a portion of the vehicle. Truck drivers are significantly heavier and more powerful than any passenger vehicle, meaning their drivers have an even greater responsibility to turn safely.
In any discussion about truck accidents, some degree of blame always falls upon the passenger vehicles. They’re accused of driving in a truck’s blind spots or unsafely merging in front of them and then hitting the brakes
In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that passenger vehicles held responsibility for around 80% of all two-vehicle trucking accidents. More recently, both the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the American Trucking Association (ATA) found almost identical results.
All the research seems to indicate that while truckers cause some crashes, average drivers need more information and training to drive safely around trucks. It’s a portion sorely missing from DMV tests, and this lack of training is endangering hundreds of thousands of lives every year.
Ultimately, traffic safety is a shared responsibility. Both truck drivers and passenger drivers should adhere to defensive driving tactics. If everyone drove cautiously and defensively, while respecting the physical limitations and visibility issues inherent to commercial trucks, this nation would see a significant drop in deadly trucking accidents.
If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries or even wrongful death in a commercial truck accident, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney from Kolker Law Firm to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (314) 684-8285.