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The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

We all share the road with 18-wheelers, and whether we’re talking about the cashier at the gas station or some guy we meet at a party, once anyone finds out about our lawyers’ experience litigating truck accident cases, virtually everyone asks the same question: what are most common causes of truck accidents that we encounter in our cases? It’s a fair question. We all share the road with big trucks, and if there’s some some specific misconduct that one can be on the lookout for, then maybe an accident can be avoided.

In the interest of addressing this question, our attorneys wrote this article to describe what our experience has shown us to be the most common cause of truck accidents.


Questions answered in this article:

  • What are the most common causes of truck accidents?
  • What truck driver misconduct causes 18-wheeler accidents?
  • Are truck drivers more dangerous than other drivers?
  • Just how many truck accidents are there?

Just how big of a problem are truck accidents?

Statistically speaking, you’re less likely to be hurt by an 18-wheeler than a passenger car. However, that arithmetic is no comfort to the people who are indeed harmed by negligent truckers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were more than 500,000 accidents involving large trucks and commercial vehicles in 2010, and these accidents resulted in more than 100,000 serious injuries and more than 5,000 deaths, compared with 3,200 deaths in 2009. Suffice it to say, this is a big problem.

Causes of Truck Accidents

So why do these accidents take place? What are the causal factors? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Misconduct by truck drivers – Now more than ever, truck drivers are under intense pressure to stay on the road longer, making back-to-back trips a frequent occurrence. As a result, fatigue is rampant among drivers, even though federal law mandates they take periodic rest stops. But in order to make a mileage bonus or meet an unreasonable deadline, many drivers simply choose to ignore those mandates. On top of all of this, because of the increased demands on the trucking industry, many companies hire under-qualified or completely unqualified drivers who are not familiar or simply don’t care about the intricacies associated with operating an 18-wheeler.

    Truck Driver Background Checks Following a serious accident, people often want to know if the trucker involved has a clean record or not...Read More >

    In many of the cases we’ve litigated, the truck driver defendants don’t think the rules applied to them. The rules we are referring to are a combination of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) and the Texas commercial drivers license rules. Both of these areas of law deal directly with the issues that invariably arise in truck accident cases. It is critical that your lawyer knows, understands, and correctly applies these rules to your case.

    In our two and a half decades of litigating truck accidents at Grossman Law Offices, we have seen many instances of drivers operating vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and as a result, suffer impaired judgement while driving. Also, we’ve dealt with many accidents caused by distracted drivers who, despite recent federal crackdowns on using cell phones to talk or text while driving, still use their devices. Make no mistake about it, an 18-wheeler is truly a very complicated vehicle to drive; even a momentary lapse of concentration can lead to disaster.

  • Equipment maintenance and failure – Trucking companies are responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles. They can maintain (work on) their own trucks or use a third-party to complete the work. If they use a third-party, you may be able to include this contractor as another defendant in your lawsuit.

    Furthermore, another common cause of trucking accidents is equipment failure. Equipment manufacturing mistakes can lead to problems such as blowouts of defective tires, and the failure to properly maintain equipment (such as braking systems) can also result in accidents. If there is a manufacturing defect, then a products liability case needs to be considered.

  • Cargo loading problems – When a truck is negligently or improperly loaded, an accident can easily take place. Even though federal law requires 18-wheelers to carry no more than 80,000 pounds of weight, many trucks are routinely overloaded in order to save fuel costs by reducing the amount of trips necessary. When this happens, a truck can easily overturn while making a sharp turn or maneuvering quickly through traffic. On the other hand, these trucks may also experience problems when they do not carry enough cargo. For example, a tanker-trailer attached to an 18-wheeler carrying a liquid load of less than 75 percent capacity will potentially slosh about, resulting in an imbalance that can eventually cause the driver to lose control of his rig. Trucks Carrying Hazardous Cargo According to the United States Department of Transportation, almost 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are transported in this country annually.Read More >
  • Errors committed by other drivers – It might surprise you to learn that other drivers can be the causes of trucking accidents too. One specific example is when the driver of a smaller vehicle drives in a commercial truck driver’s blind spot. Because 18-wheelers are so large, there are areas at the side and rear that aren’t visible to the truck driver. As a result, many accidents take place since the smaller vehicle is not visible to the 18-wheeler’s driver.

    Also, when non-commercial drivers change lanes abruptly in front of a truck or they follow too closely, it takes 18-wheelers more time to stop (naturally due to the size and weight of the truck). Many drivers of smaller vehicles do not realize this fact and collide with 18-wheelers as a result. It is the responsibility of the 18-wheeler’s driver to anticipate the smaller car’s actions and maintain a proper distance to allow for braking. Too often, it is the truck driver that fails to act properly resulting in catastrophe.

Laws and regulations exist for the trucking industry because they have proven the need for constant reminders on how to operate without injuring other motorists. So, if you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it is important for you, or your family, to bring the negligent party to justice. It would be a tragedy for an individual to have his life ruined because of a truck accident. Therefore, lawsuits against trucking companies or their drivers may be necessary for a victim to receive as much compensation as possible.

Call an Attorney as Soon as You Can

No matter what the cause of your accident, it is essential that you contact an attorney as quickly as possible so that you can pursue those responsible for fair compensation.

At Grossman Law Offices, our attorneys have represented thousands of clients injured in truck accidents over the past 25 years and helped them secure equitable restitution. If you would like a free and confidential consultation from one of our attorneys, please call us at (855) 326-0000 (toll free).


Related Article for Further Reading

  • Why Police Reports Are Overrated
  • How Does a Truck Accident Injury Trial Work?
  • Special Considerations for Fatal Truck Accident Cases
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