What Factors Cause Truck Drivers To Have Accidents?

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP July 3, 2014

Everyone on the highway faces the possibility of accidents involving large trucks and buses; accidents happen because there are so many large vehicles on the road. There were 589 fatalities involving large trucks or buses in 2013 in Texas; this was by far the largest number of fatalities in the entire country according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.1 In addition, most deaths from large truck accidents involve occupants of passenger vehicles.2 Although accidents will happen, truck accident attorneys advise that certain factors contribute to such incidents.

Important Factors

You have to know what causes big truck accidents in order to reduce the fatalities shown in the above statistics. Attorneys who handle truck accident injuries note some of the following important factors:

  • Driver Error – The single most significant cause of road mishaps involving big rigs is driver error. This category would include anything that prevents a driver from seeing, reacting, or judging properly. It could include talking on cell phones, texting while driving, driving too fast for conditions, poor awareness of blind spots, driving while intoxicated or taking certain medications, driving on too little sleep, etc. These actions could lead to disastrous results.

  • Weather and Road Conditions – Bad roads from ice, snow, heavy rains, or high winds are responsible for many big truck highway accidents. Losing control of vehicles in extreme conditions is common because of the height, weight, and length of the truck as well as the loads being carried. Drivers of these commercial vehicles must know how to handle weather and road conditions.

  • Mechanical Failure – Mechanical breakdown and parts failure do happen. The concern is when it happens due to poor vehicle maintenance, improper use of equipment, and incomplete employee training. This is an avoidable factor know by truck accident attorneys who represent people injured from such accidents.

  • Incorrect Load Distribution – Driving with a load that is improperly secured or positioned can lead to problems. A driver’s ability to control an 18-wheeler while traveling at highway speeds will be affected by the movement caused when a load shifts in the trailer behind the cab of a big rig.

Accident Prevention

Trucking companies must actively enforce safe vehicle operation by their drivers in order to decrease the type of behavior that accounts for such events. Electronic data recorders are now used to track vehicle operations as well as how many hours a truck is being driven. These records are an over-the-road version of airplane black boxes – GPS devices that use on-board computers. More drivers have become aware of operating hours and driving conditions which has the potential to affect the safety of big rig operations.

Commercial truck drivers can prevent dangerous conditions that lead to accidents. Truck accident attorneys who help clients injured from 18-wheeler accidents recognize that truck operators must follow Federal Motor Carrier Regulations and the factors that exist while operating a heavy-duty truck over the highways. The likelihood that drivers will make a potentially fatal error while driving 18-wheelers can be reduced when they pay attention to driving conditions and abide by established rules and regulations.

1Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ‘2014 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics’2Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, Highway Safety Research – ‘Large Trucks’