Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Just a few days after Christmas in 2016, a dump truck driver was driving down the highway when he had a blow-out and lost control of his rig. He drove head-on into a semi-truck, killing that driver instantly. The dump truck also ran into a pickup. The drivers of the pickup and dump truck were both airlifted to a hospital. The severity and nature of the injuries of the two men were not immediately known. This was just one of the tens of thousands of big truck fatal accidents that occur in the U.S. every year and hundreds that occur in Pennsylvania.

In 2015, according to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), 667 people were killed and 30,000 injured in crashes involving heavy trucks. In Pennsylvania, in large truck accidents, 149 died and thousands were injured. If you are aware of the most common causes of truck accidents, you can also be aware of some ways you can increase your safety on the road.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a published a list of the most common causes of trucking accidents. They are divided into two groups: reasons related to driver errors, and reasons due to problems with the equipment.

Driver Error

Driver errors fall into four main categories.

  • Driver non-performance: The driver falls asleep or is physically impaired for some reason, like having a seizure or a heart attack.
  • Driver fails to recognize danger: This includes distracted driving whether by texting, adjusting the radio, talking on the cell phone, eating, or any other condition inside or out the takes the driver’s attention off of the road.
  • Poor decision making: This happens when a driver goes too fast for the road conditions even if driving within the posted speed limit. Following vehicles too closely or misjudging the speed of other vehicles also represent poor decision making as does passing in zones where it is unsafe.
  • Poor performance: Turning too quickly, overcompensating leading to a loss of control, or making a sudden movement which causes the driver to swerve out of his or her lane all amount to poor performance. Sudden swerving can cause the cargo to shift, which in turn causes the driver to lose control. A failure to understand the braking time and distance for the cargo that is being transported can can cause the driver not to be able to stop as quickly as necessary resulting in the truck plowing into the back of the vehicle traveling in front of it.

Top factors associated with large truck accidents include:

  • Problems with the brakes.
  • Traffic congestion.
  • Driver unfamiliarity with the roadway.
  • Driver’s over-the-counter drug use.
  • Roadway problems.
  • Truck driver fatigue.

Things Car Drivers Can Do to Avoid Truck Accidents

Pennsylvania car drivers can take certain precautions to try and avoid certain driving activities around big trucks that can contribute to accidents. For example:

  • Avoid driving directly behind or alongside a truck in its “no visibility” zone.
  • Do not change lanes abruptly right in front of the truck driver.
  • Do not make a left turn in front of an oncoming truck. It is too easy for you to misjudge the truck’s speed and too difficult for the truck to stop quickly in order to avoid crashing into you.
  • Do not pass a truck without allowing enough room to return to your own lane before encountering approaching traffic.
  • Avoid driving between two big trucks.

If you were injured in an accident with a large truck, or someone you love was killed in a crash involving a large truck, contact our truck accident attorneys at The Slocum Firm. We will investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and determine if you have the legal right to file a claim for compensation. Contact us by calling (570) 209-7376 or by filling out our online form. We offer a free case evaluation.

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