Examining the Causes of Truck Crashes
Truck crashes occur on U.S roadways every day. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, between 2018 and 2019, 5,005 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes — a 2% increase. Truck accidents that involved injuries increased by 6%, from 112,000 to 119,000.
While these are some concerning statistics, many truck accidents are avoidable when truck drivers take the necessary precautions and follow mandated safety rules set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, since truckers have strict delivery deadlines, safety isn't always top of mind when a long haul requires a speedy delivery. Here are the top eight causes of truck crashes on U.S. roads.
1. Driver fatigue
Truck drivers are up against the high pressures of making deliveries of goods to destinations within strict deadlines. That means that they may take fewer breaks to get the job completed on time. Although the FMCSA has laws, regulations, and requirements on how often truck drivers are mandated to take breaks, such as the sleeper berth rule, driving without rest means the risk of driving while fatigued. Fatigued driving and drowsiness can cause a driver to have a slower reaction time, lose coordination, and, even worse, fall asleep behind the wheel.
2. Distracted Driving
Truck drivers can become easily distracted. When on a long haul and roads are desolate, they may be more tempted to look at their phone, and when they feel lonely, they may be more tempted to talk on the phone with family and friends while driving. Since they have to meet tight deadlines, they may eat while driving. In addition, when truckers have to map their destinations, using GPS systems while driving is also a form of distracted driving.
3. Driving While Impaired
According to a 2013 Reuters article, a study concluded that drug use is high among commercial truck drivers. In one study, 8% of drivers tested positive for amphetamines. Another study showed that the U.S. had the highest frequency of positive alcohol tests at 12.5%. 20% of truck drivers reported they had used marijuana, and 3% said they used cocaine. The influence of drugs or alcohol means slow reaction time, impaired judgment, and reduced coordination. Consuming alcohol or drugs can also increase recklessness and aggressive driving behaviors.
As mentioned above, dealing with strict guidelines means truck drivers may be more apt to speed to get to their destination on time. Speeding puts everyone on the road at risk — especially significantly smaller passenger cars who are no match for the size and weight of big rigs. Should a truck driver lose control of their vehicle and swerve into another lane colliding with another vehicle, the result can be life-threatening injuries.
5. Lack of Maintenance
Truck maintenance is critical to a truck's performance. There are special regulations that a truck company must abide by when it comes to inspecting trucks before they go out on the road. When trucking companies cut corners on maintenance, it could lead to a severe and devastating truck crash.
6. Driver Inexperience
Truck drivers may not get the rigorous training that you think they do. While there are regulations and requirements regarding how many hours of training a driver must have to be ready to handle a commercial truck, some drivers get on the road without having those requirements met. Trucking companies that focus on getting deliveries out quickly could prematurely put a driver on the road who isn't yet skillful. An inexperienced driver may not be ready to maneuver a truck when they're in a situation where a quick decision is needed to avoid an accident.
7. Cargo Load
It might not be so obvious, but cargo load can affect how a truck handles on the road. Trucks are mandated to adhere to specific weight size, length, width, and height limits when the truck is being loaded. Stricter regulations are enforced if a truck is carrying hazardous material. There are even more stringent regulations on handling hazardous materials; however, mistakes can be made. When a truck is improperly loaded with cargo, the weight can shift throughout the ride, causing the truck to go off balance and cause a severe accident.
8. Inclement Weather
When driving in rain, wind, snow, sleet, or hail, drivers must know how to handle a semi-truck. Inclement weather may be unavoidable when a delivery deadline must be met. Without experience and proper training, a driver may not handle poor conditions on the road. Not being able to handle poor conditions on the road can put every motorist at risk. In addition, if the truck’s parts are not working correctly, such as tires are not maintained, it can make it exceptionally even more dangerous.
When You Need Help After a Truck Crash, Contact Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C..
Serious injuries need strong attorneys. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, it's a devastating experience that often poses life-long consequences. Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries since smaller vehicles are no match for their larger counterparts. That is why we have dedicated ourselves to helping personal injury victims exercise their rights to claim compensation to ensure medical expenses and other losses are covered.
Allow us to put our over 40 year legacy of success to work for you. For a free consultation, contact a Springfield personal injury lawyer at Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C. today to begin reviewing your case.