Driving a big truck can be a thrilling experience for many folks, but it also comes with many challenges and hazards. One moment of distraction or carelessness could cause an accident that could be fatal for the driver, the passengers, and even the pedestrians sharing the road.
Unfortunately, truck accidents are not as rare as we would like to believe. According to recent statistics, fatal accidents involving large trucks saw a 49% increase from 2010 to 2020. So, what gives? Why are there so many truck accidents these days?
There are several reasons why there are so many truck accidents. Distractions, fatigue, and speeding are some of the common factors. Truck drivers are often under constant pressure to meet deadlines and keep up with the pace of traffic. Sometimes, they sacrifice their safety and the safety of others in the process.
This comprehensive guide will explore the ten most common causes of truck accidents. We’ll discuss the signs to look out for to prevent accidents caused by distracted and fatigued driving. We understand how overwhelming and traumatizing truck accidents can be. That’s why we’ll also share some tips on what to do if you’ve been in a truck accident.
Are Large Trucks More Dangerous?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, such as who is driving the truck and the road conditions.
First, let’s consider the person behind the wheel. If truck drivers are experienced and well-trained, they should know how to handle their large vehicles safely. Conversely, an inexperienced driver may struggle to control a big truck, making it more dangerous in certain situations.
Road conditions also significantly affect how dangerous large trucks can be. For example, when roads are wet, icy, or covered in snow, it can be harder for a truck to stop quickly (we’ll get to this below, as it’s a very common cause of truck accidents). Additionally, narrow roads with tight turns can be challenging for large trucks to navigate, which could lead to collisions.
So, yeah, in some situations, larger trucks are indeed more dangerous. They have bigger blind spots, making it difficult for the driver to see smaller cars nearby. Furthermore, the size and weight of a large truck can cause more damage in an accident than in a smaller vehicle.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
As you can see from the statistics above, truck accidents are a serious concern in the transportation industry, with thousands of people being injured or killed each year. There are numerous common causes of truck accidents that are worth discussing in more detail, as understanding these causes can help reduce the incidence of such accidents.
1. Driving Fatigue
Driving fatigue happens when truck drivers feel very tired or sleepy while driving. Long hours of driving, not enough sleep, and stress can cause driving fatigue.
To avoid driving fatigue, truck drivers should follow these tips:
- Get enough sleep before driving
- Take breaks every two hours or 100 miles
- Avoid driving during times when you usually sleep
- Keep the truck’s cabin cool and well-ventilated
While this might not help you as a passenger, the key to avoiding large accidents is to practice defensive driving. Remain vigilant of other vehicles, especially large ones.
2. Distracted Driving
Many things can cause distracted driving, like using a phone, eating, or changing the radio station. If you see a distracted truck driver, honk your horn to alert them or pull back to avoid driving near them. If you’re a truck driver, plan breaks to eat, rest, or make phone calls.
3. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving refers to situations where drivers don’t follow traffic rules or drive carelessly. Speeding, tailgating, and changing lanes without signaling are examples of reckless driving. To avoid accidents, always follow traffic rules, take breaks when needed, and stay calm while driving.
4. Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Poor vehicle maintenance happens when truck drivers or companies don’t take care of their trucks properly. Some examples of poor maintenance are worn-out tires, bad brakes, and broken lights. These issues can lead to dangerous situations on the road and, ultimately, a bad truck crash.
Whether you’re a truck driver or are driving a “regular” car, you should regularly take your car to a mechanic to ensure that all parts work well and replace any damaged ones. If you own the truck fleet, this might be covered under your business insurance.
5. Poor Cargo Loading
Poor cargo loading can cause truck accidents when workers load the truck’s cargo badly. They might put too much weight on one side or not secure it well. When cargo is not balanced or secure, the truck can tip over or lose control while driving.
The easiest way to prevent this? Truck drivers can check their cargo before they start driving. They should make sure the weight is balanced, and everything is secure. It only takes a few seconds but can prevent a world of trouble and potential legal problems down the line.
6. Intoxicated Driving
This dangerous behavior is a common cause of not just truck accidents but other auto accidents as well. When drivers drink alcohol or take drugs, their ability to drive safely becomes impaired. They may have slower reaction times, blurry vision, and poor judgment. This can lead to accidents and hurt people.
The bottom line? It’s important to never drive after drinking. Always find a safe way home, like asking a sober friend or using a taxi. If you’re driving a truck for work, alert a coworker or your boss and sit tight — even if it means missing a deadline.
7. Inclement Weather
Inclement weather refers to harsh or severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, ice, or fog. These conditions can make roads slippery and hard to see, leading to truck accidents. Often, truck drivers face problems like reduced visibility and poor traction during bad weather.
To prevent accidents, truck drivers should follow some safety tips. First, they slow down and keep extra space between your truck and other vehicles. This allows more time to react if something goes wrong. Additionally, it’s best to always use headlights and turn signals to help others see your truck.
8. Road Hazards
Sometimes, a truck accident isn’t your fault as much as it is due to natural road conditions. Common road hazards include potholes, debris on the road, and bad weather conditions. A truck can lose control and crash when it hits a pothole or debris. This is made worth by bad weather, which can make roads slippery and dangerous.
While you can’t necessarily fix road hazards, you can stay alert and focused as you look for them. Regardless, keep a safe distance from other vehicles and slow down during bad weather.
9. Poor Driver Training
Not all truck companies train their drivers properly. Sometimes, they rush the training process to put more drivers on the road quickly. As a result, these drivers might not know how to handle difficult situations or avoid accidents. If you believe that’s the case, ask your company if you can complete a more thorough training program.
10. Equipment Failure
Finally, truck accidents can also be caused by equipment that fails while on the road. Some examples include bad brakes, worn-out tires, and faulty lights. As mentioned above, poor maintenance and manufacturing defects can lead to equipment failure.
To prevent accidents caused by equipment failure, ensure you’re regularly inspecting your trucks. Check everything from the brakes, tires, and lights to the engine and more.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Understanding the common causes of truck accidents doesn’t help much if you’ve already been involved in an accident or if you’re not the responsible party. So, what do you do if you’re involved in a truck accident? Stay calm and take specific steps to protect your safety and legal rights.
Check for Injuries
After a truck accident, the first thing to do is to check for injuries. If you or someone else is severely hurt, call 911 immediately. Do not move seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger of further harm, such as a fire or explosion.
Call the Police
Always call the police and report the accident as soon as possible. An official police report will document the accident, which will help you in case you need to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Provide the police with accurate information about what happened, but do not admit fault or apologize.
Document the Scene
Take photos of the accident scene, including the damage to the truck and other vehicles, road conditions, and nearby landmarks. Also, gather information from the other driver, such as their name, contact information, insurance details, and license plate number.
Consult with a Lawyer
If you were injured or experienced significant damage to your property, consider getting legal help. You can learn more about a personal injury attorney here and how they help, but they can advise you on your rights and help you navigate the legal process. Hiring a truck lawyer specifically is beneficial as they have the exact legal experience and expertise needed to handle your case.
How to Choose an Attorney
As you can see, truck accidents are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. Many factors contribute to these incidents, from distracted driving to lack of maintenance.
However, by understanding the causes, we can work to prevent them. It’s important that truck drivers are properly trained and attentive while on the road. Car drivers must also know the risks of sharing the road with these large vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, seeking help from a personal injury attorney is essential. However, it pays to research your options before you hire a lawyer. Luckily, we have guides available to help you find the right one. Click here to browse our helpful guide so you can learn how to find a lawyer to help defend your case.