Big Rig Safety – The Top Issues They Face!

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP July 2, 2015

In an ongoing effort to identify and correct the risks related to the commercial trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) invests significant time and money to gather data and information about the cause of trucking accidents that is used for research into this important topic. The results of these studies are of great interest to lawyers who work with clients recovering from injuries received from truck wrecks as well as the truckers themselves and trucking companies. Truck drivers should consider the following critical issues relating to big truck safety and how to avoid the ramifications from at-fault accidents or safety violations. A brief summary of the findings of the FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS)1 is outlined below.

  • Driver Fatigue and Driving Hours – Driver fatigue from a lack of sleep, driving too many hours, and poor sleeping habits has been found to be one of the main causes of trucking accident. The legal number of driving hours in service continues to be cut back in an attempt to combat this problem, though this action has created much controversy among drivers and commercial carrier companies.

  • Lack of Vehicle Maintenance and Safety Inspection – Defective brakes and other mechanical failures are responsible for a large number of trucking accidents.2 The FMCSA currently spends over $100 million each year on truck and bus safety inspections and inspection facilities to prevent these potentially deadly maintenance issues. Compliance enforcement is essential to be sure that all big rig trucks on the highways can pass inspections and are safe.

  • Passenger Vehicles on the Highway – The actions of passenger vehicles like cars and light trucks are a substantial factor in nearly 60 percent of all fatal trucking accidents.2 Actions taken by these smaller vehicles can cause truck drivers to react in certain ways, including loss of control of the bigger and deadlier commercial truck. The LTCCS tabulates the different ways that passenger and light vehicles cause truck wrecks, and has identified them as a major cause of big rig accidents.

  • Environmental Causes – A significant contributing factor in big truck accidents are classified as environmental causes. This includes: weather conditions; road conditions; road construction and design; obstructed vision; and additional natural and physical factors that contribute to truck accidents.2 Research of crash data can reveal how these incidents occur, which environmental causes are most prevalent, and why.

  • Driver Training, Licensing and Skill – Attorneys who deal extensively with trucking accidents recognize that driver training and proper licensing has been found to be partially responsible for certain truck crashes. Unskilled drivers and those not properly licensed have been identified as contributing to trucking accidents, as has driver inexperience, driver reactions, mistakes, poor decisions, and other similar behaviors. The list doesn’t end there, as other contributing factors include failure to adhere to safety rules and traffic laws; lack of attention to detail; use of drugs, alcohol or prescription medications; and other factors that either affect performance or are caused by lack of skill or training.

There are many other factors that cause truck wrecks; however, injury attorneys and truck wreck lawyers most commonly deal with the ones mentioned above. As the FCMSA gathers and analyzes more information about trucking accidents, it is vital that truck drivers and trucking companies review and note the most significant causes of accidents involving big trucks. Anyone involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, or has questions about commercial truck safety issues and accidents, is encouraged to discuss their circumstances with an experienced truck accident law firm.

1Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Large Truck Causation Study, 2006

2Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Large Truck Causation Study Summary, 2006