Top 10 Causes of Truck Accidents

Due to the size, weight and speed involved in most truck accidents, the injuries sustained by motorists are often the most severe injuries we see in our practice. We have experience assisting those involved in truck accident injuries, but we prefer that these accidents don’t occur in the first place. Knowing why these accidents occur is the first step to prevention so we’ve put together the following list of the top 10 causes of truck accidents to help everybody on the road to better understand how to stay safe.

In 2007, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study to determine the top causes of truck accidents in the U.S. This was largely due to the rise in trucking accidents in recent years – as well as the severity of the injuries at issue. Truck accidents are often much more problematic and involve more serious injuries and consequences than other motor vehicle accidents. This unfortunate reality is due, in large part, to the sheer size of a truck in comparison to that of a car or motorcycle. Knowing the root causes of truck accidents can make you a better and more defensive driver. Hauling of products across the country is a major business. Commercial trucks can be found on major highways everywhere. They are big, loud and fast. They are also the major cause of vehicular accidents. There are about 500,000 accidents caused by commercial trucks, directly or indirectly. Truck accidents often lead to multiple injuries and death. Here are the top causes of truck accidents in the United States:

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#10. Aggressive Driving Behavior

Truck drivers acting aggressively accounted for approximately 7% of truck accidents as noted in the FMCSA study. If you’ve ever been in the car driving for an extended period of time, you can relate to feeling fatigued and irritable. Driving hundreds of miles per day – through construction, traffic and poor weather – can cause truck drivers to drive erratically. Aggressive driving can be a bit hard to define. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Common examples of truck driver conduct that could be considered aggressive driving include the following:

Truck Accidents Caused by Aggressive Driving
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#9. Inefficient Evasive Action

The NHTSA defines inadequate evasive action as “situations when drivers fail to execute a proper evasive maneuver by not using sufficient steering inputs, not braking appropriately, or a combination of insufficient steering and braking inputs.” An example would be failing to hit the brakes for stopped traffic. Due to the inertia generated by the weight and size of a truck, failing to take appropriate evasive action can lead to very serious rear end collisions.

Truck Accidents Caused by Inefficient Evasive Action
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#8. Outside Distraction

Many truck drivers report feeling boredom when on long stretches of highway. As such, often times truck drivers get distracted by either events outside of the truck, or something inside the truck. Whether it is eating, looking at an accident scene or using a cellular phone – the result can be a serious injury causing accident.

Truck Accidents Caused by Outside Distraction
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#7. Illegal maneuvering of the vehicle

Traffic laws exist – in large part – to keep us safe. However, with so many trucks and cars on the road, it is inevitable that illegal traffic maneuvers will occur. Due to the size of trucks, these maneuvers can cause serious injuries. Some common examples of illegal traffic maneuvers which can result in truck accidents include truck drivers traveling in the wrong direction on a roadway; truckers turning from the wrong lane; truckers making U-turns in prohibited areas or turning in prohibited areas; and illegal passing.

If a truck driver’s actions were a violation of your state’s traffic safety statutes, evidence of the violation may create a presumption that the truck driver was negligent. If a victim of a truck accident pursues a legal claim for compensation for accident losses, victims generally must prove negligence was the direct cause of the collision and resulting damages. The presumption of negligence can make it easier to meet the burden of proof.

Truck Accidents Caused by Illegal Maneuvering of Vehicle
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#6. Driver Fatigue

For over the road truckers – driving long stretches at one time is not just the job description, but it is often the difference between meeting a deadline or not. Many trucking companies push their drivers to drive longer and farther between stops. While federal law seeks to limit the amount of time a driver can operate a truck in one trip, many drivers skirt the law in an effort to increase profitability. This type of behavior can lead to decreased reaction time, lack of attentiveness and avoidable mistakes that can cost people their lives. Long hours of driving can take its toll on the human body and mind. Most drivers drive for long hours with very little time to rest and catch up on sleep because they have to deliver goods on time. The pressure of making it on time and being on the road alone and dealing with road traffic are stressful. Driving is also physically taxing. Adding all these factors together can cause a driver to lose concentration, coordination, and can lead to sleeping while driving.

Truck Accidents Caused by Driver Fatigue
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#5. Improper Surveillance of the Area and Other Vehicles

Ever look at the back of the truck and see the “blind spot” warning? This warning is there because improper surveillance of the area and other vehicles is a leading cause of death or serious injury in truck accidents.

Truck Accidents Caused by Improper Surveillance
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#4. Over-the-counter drug impairment

Almost all drugs that cause drowsiness or fatigue have a warning on the label warning people about the potential dangers of operating a motor vehicle under their influence. Despite this, too often, people don’t heed this warning and get behind the wheel while under their influence. The consequences of using these drugs while driving a truck is amplified due to the size and weight – making it that much more reckless.

Truck Accidents Caused by OTC Drug Impairment
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#3. Unfamiliarity with roadway/location

It’s not hard to imagine that driving in unfamiliar locations as often as truckers do can get confusing incredibly quickly. Also – with a patchwork of State driving customs – lack of familiarity with a specific area can and does lead to tragic consequences. Newly hired drivers may not have enough experience to handle a large vehicle for long hours. It takes training and experience to master driving a truck for days with little stops. New drivers can make mistakes that lead to road accidents.

Truck Accidents Caused by Unfamiliarity
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#2. Driving too fast

Trucks are hard to stop, especially when carrying a heavy load. Therefore, driving too fast can have fatal and tragic consequences. Many highways and roads have different speed limits for cars and trucks for this very reason – because lawmakers know that a truck moving at a high rate of speed can become an instrument of destruction in an instant. Because of time constraints, delivery deadlines to meet and traffic to deal with, truck drivers tend to overlook speed limits and overtake carelessly. Speeding and overtaking can cause the driver to lose control at some point, especially if the truck is not properly maintained. Likewise, drivers can lose control if they are distracted, such as taking a phone call or text messaging. 

Truck Accidents Caused by Speed
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#1. Prescription drug use

Due to their stressful schedules, long hours, and cramped quarters, many truck drivers turn to sleep aids and drugs to cope. Rather than jeopardizing their jobs by complaining or having a doctor tell them that they can no longer drive long distances, they turn to pills. Whether to combat fatigue, fight pain or due to addiction – the consequences of impairment can have serious and lifelong effects on others on the road. Related to driver fatigue, the stress and feeling of fatigue can lead to alcoholism and drug addiction. Cross country truck stops are marketplaces for booze and drugs. Aside from drinking on stops, drivers may carry alcohol and non-prescription drugs with them to ease the stress and fatigue. Unfortunately, these substances impair motor skills and coordination that are important in driving. 

Truck Accidents Caused by Improper Surveillance
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Based on the findings of this study, truck driving accidents are overwhelmingly the result of inefficient attention to the road and driving conditions, as well as driving impairment in some form or another. If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, it is imperative that you contact a truck accident attorney to represent you and secure the compensation you deserve, before it is too late!

If you have been involved in a truck driving accident, contact the family of lawyers at Sawan & Sawan today to set up a consultation for your case. Our team is exceptionally skilled at analyzing the facts of the case and determining all liable parties in the accident to get the results our clients deserve. Call Sawan & Sawan today at 419-900-0955.

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Dennis P. Sawan

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Christopher A. Sawan


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