Big vehicles, such as tractor trailers and delivery trucks, can cause great damage to passenger cars due to their size and weight. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) show that many of these accidents occurred due to truck drivers not paying attention to the road or not adjusting their speed to the prevailing road conditions. Other causes of accidents include defective vehicles and truck companies’ failure to ensure their drivers were adequately qualified and trained.
Accidents can occur when other drivers are unaware of the practicalities a truck driver is dealing with. Car drivers can cause accidents by following semi-trucks too closely, making unpredictable or fast lane changes, or by passing trucks on the right.
However, truck accidents can also happen due to a driver’s or a company’s negligence. In a 2017 summary on large truck and bus crash facts conducted by the FMCSA, large commercial vehicles—including large trucks—accounted for almost 5,000 accidents that resulted in deaths.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Some instances where a driver or company may be responsible and held negligent include:
- Distracted driving.
- Driving while fatigued.
- Failing to adjust driving to road and weather conditions.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Speeding and driving recklessly.
- Negligent hiring by the truck company.
- Failing to properly train drivers.
- Failing to maintain trucks to a quality standard.
- Failing to observe or enforce the break periods of drivers.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, safety defects and long hours contribute to large truck crashes. Sometimes, a truck driver not performing their duty properly can cause a crash. They might overreact or underreact to traffic events.
The vehicle itself can also be a cause or contributing factor to accidents. FMCSA stated that some of the causes of most truck accidents with other vehicles are problems with the brakes or tires.
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Steps You Can Take to Prevent the Causes of Most Truck Accidents
While accidents can be a large truck or tractor-trailer driver’s fault, there are some things any car driver can do to help protect themselves from an accident with a large commercial vehicle. It pays off to drive defensively in general, keep your entire attention on the road, and remain safely within posted speed limits.
A large vehicle needs a much longer time and distance to brake and accelerate, due to their heavier weight. Passenger car drivers can help to avoid accidents by increasing their distance and allowing more space in front of and behind trucks on the highway as well as on inner city roads. Using your indicators prudently and not making any sudden or unpredictable lane changes will also help to avoid accidents with trucks.
Driving behind a truck severely impacts your road visibility regarding the traffic situation and signage ahead. Leaving ample space between your car and a truck can help you react to any red lights or unexpected traffic situations that you may be unaware of when driving behind a large truck.
Generally, car drivers should always be aware that trucks and tractor-trailers are unable to maneuver as quickly and as efficiently as a car, and that a truck driver does not always have good visibility. Long trucks need more space and might have to use two lanes, for example, when they are pulling out of an entrance or turning into another lane or road.
It is also important to note that trucks have a much larger blind spot, which is something to think about when overtaking any long trucks and tractor-trailers. They may not see you. However, they are more likely to see you when you pass them on the driver’s side than on the passenger’s side. Passing a truck on the left side can help avoid accidents.
Getting Legal Help After a Truck Accident
The causes of most truck accidents can lead to complex cases, especially if there are several vehicles involved. It is not always easy to determine liability and often a driver, the truck company, or both may have been acting negligently and could be held accountable for their actions.
With the many potential causes of an accident, drivers may feel overwhelmed by seeking compensation. Legal representatives can help figure out the best approaches to truck accident cases and any state or federal laws that impact the case.
If you have been in an accident involving a truck and you would like to find out if you may be eligible for compensation, or if you are looking for information on possible legal action, Ben Crump Law, PLLC offers free consultations. Call us at 800-630-9229 to find out whether you have a case and how we can help.