In 2020, almost 5,000 large trucks were involved in fatal traffic accidents, and over 100,000 were involved in crashes that resulted in injuries. The number of fatal traffic accidents involving a large truck has increased by 33% since 2011.
Truck accidents tend to be more catastrophic than traffic accidents that only involve smaller vehicles. This is normally down to the sheer size of the truck or the type of cargo it is carrying. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common causes of truck accidents and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Following Too Closely
A large number of traffic accidents involving large trucks occur due to other vehicles following too closely. The sheer size of some trucks means it can be impossible for the driver to see other vehicles if they are following too closely.
If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident involving a truck, a truck accident lawyer will need to establish if you were at a safe distance from the truck before the accident took place. With the help of an accident reconstruction expert, investigators can determine if tailgating contributed to the truck crash.
Driving too closely to a truck can cause the drivers of other vehicles to panic and overreact to the truck’s movement. Drivers should always make a conscious effort to give trucks extra space when driving close to them.
2. Poor Vehicle Maintenance
It is often the truck driver’s responsibility to ensure the maintenance of their vehicle, but not always. Larger organizations will routinely maintain their trucking fleet. All truck drivers should keep a record of maintenance with them in the case of an accident.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents that result from poor vehicle maintenance include blowouts from badly worn tires and failing brakes.
3. Driver Fatigue/Time Constraints
Truck drivers often work long hours. While there are laws in place that permit commercial truck drivers to drive for longer than 11 hours at a time, sometimes company deadlines are chosen over safety.
The longer a truck driver works without taking adequate rest the greater the chance of an accident. Some drivers may choose the regulations regarding driving hours, and sometimes the organizations might be responsible for pushing drivers to get the job done.
In the case of a truck driver accident, truck accident attorneys will always establish how long the driver had been on the road. If the driver had been on the road for too long they will also have to ascertain whether it was the driver’s or the organization’s fault.
4. Adverse Weather Conditions
Not every truck driver accident has a clear negligent driver involved. Adverse weather conditions are responsible for around 21% of all vehicle crashes each year.
Adverse conditions impact everyone on the road, but the impact is even greater for truck drivers. Snow, ice, and heavy rain will not only affect how well a large truck handles, but they can also impact how secure the cargo is during transit.
Truck drivers should always be properly trained in managing adverse weather conditions. This is one of the first things a truck accident lawyer will look into if a truck accident occurred during bad weather.
5. Inadequate Driver Training
Most truck accidents come down to driver error, so it’s no surprise that this can often be linked to inadequate driver training. Driving a large truck for long hours in various weather conditions requires a lot of skill and concentration.
Driver training should ensure that all truck drivers are better equipped to handle their vehicles in all weather conditions. It should also ensure that they fully understood the risks of driver errors and how to avoid them.
Unfortunately, inadequate driver training is not often the fault of the driver. The trainer is responsible for providing adequate driver training, not the driver. Quite often, a badly trained truck driver might not even be aware of their lack of driving skills.
6. Distracted Driving
Driving for long hours is an invitation for distractions, and truck drivers are just as prone to being distracted as anyone else. Taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can result in a life-changing accident.
CB radios are not used as much by truck drivers as they used to, but they are still featured in most larger trucks. These, along with mobile phones, food and drink, and even music can be responsible for distracted driving accidents.
7. Driving Under the Influence
Drunk driving claims the lives of about 32 people every day in the United States. For truck drivers, alcohol isn’t always the most common substance that might be found in their system. Truck drivers are more likely to use stimulants such as amphetamines to help keep them alert during their long hours. Marijuana is also often frequently used.
It doesn’t matter what vehicle you are driving, driving under the influence can have catastrophic consequences.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Commercial Trucks
Sharing the road with a truck is very different from sharing it with a regular-sized automobile. Unfortunately, not all drivers are aware of the increased risk when driving near a truck, and that they should take extra precautions.
Large trucks have bigger blind spots than other vehicles. It is important to stay out of a truck driver’s blind spots where possible. The best way to do this is to work on the basis that if you can’t see the truck driver in their side mirrors then they can’t see you either.
If you are close to a truck’s rear bumper then there is little chance the driver can see you. In the event of an accident, you also run the risk of sliding under the truck. When you are stationary it is also important to keep your distance as a truck can roll backward when it starts to accelerate.
Pass With Care
If you are trying to pass a truck then you must wait until you can see the truck in your rear-view mirror before getting back into the lane. Trucks also tend to pick up speed on downgrades so it’s important not to try and pass them here. If a truck is trying to pass you it is important to give them room. Stay to the right and slow down.
Anticipate Wide Turns
The bigger the vehicle, the more room they need to maneuver. It’s important to never try to squeeze between the truck and the curb on a turn as the gap is likely to get smaller as the truck turns the corner. It is also important to never block the box at intersections for the same reason.
What to Do if You’re Involved in Truck Accidents
If you’re injured in a truck accident then the first thing you should always do is make sure you get the medical attention you need. As with any accident, truck accidents require a truck accident lawyer to ascertain who was at fault.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident today or recently then our lawyers can help you to understand the situation, protect your legal rights and ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.