Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Large trucks crash far less often than smaller passenger cars for a number of reasons. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were a total of 717 crashes involving large trucks in 2015; compare that number to the more than 6 million crashes total that happened the same year. Part of the reason there are so many fewer large trucks crashing is that acquiring a commercial driver’s license is a lot harder than getting a passenger car vehicle license. Likewise, there are fewer of them on the road than the millions of passenger vehicles traveling from one place to another. So what does cause trucks to crash? Below we’ve outlined some of the most common reason these large vehicles can lose control.
Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Smaller cars are most often to blame for traffic accidents with commercial vehicles. Passenger cars are incredibly dangerous because their drivers expect big rigs and other large vehicles to perform in the same way a smaller car would. They have no idea about the capabilities and limitations of these larger vehicles and treat it as if they would treat another passenger vehicle. Because of this, they can often commit the following errors:
- Changing lanes abruptly in front of a truck
- Maneuvering to the right in front of a truck making a right turn
- Driving in large truck blind spots
- Misjudging an approaching truck’s speed at an intersection and turning left in front of the truck
- Merging improperly into traffic in front of a truck
- Failing to slow down or speed up when a truck begins to change lanes or merge
- Unsafe passing on the wrong side
- Not accounting for air turbulence when passing a truck
- Driving between large trucks
Commercial Truck Drivers
While commercial truck drivers tend to be the most responsible motor vehicle operators, they are as prone to making errors as most other people. They are skilled and patient, but they can also be distracted by any number of things on a long drive. Driving while using a phone or other electronic device is a risk, as is drunk or drugged driving. Likewise, truck companies can sometimes put unrealistic delivery expectations on their truck drivers, making them work unrealistic schedules and encouraging them to forgo sleep to make a deadline. This dangerous practice can force drivers to go against their natural sleep cycles and cause them to fall asleep behind the wheel. Last, truck companies are required to provide their drivers with adequate training regarding technique, safety concerns, and defensive driving. If they fail to provide this training, the driver will not know how to respond to emergency situations, such as what to do if a tire blows out. Part of training also concerns loading cargo. Some drivers might overload their vehicles or secure them improperly. Not only could this lack of training cause debris to potentially fly off the back of the truck, but the extra weight could also put too much pressure on the truck's tires.
Apart from driver error, there are a number of other factors that could contribute to truck accidents. For example, if the people in charge of maintaining and fixing the vehicles failed to do their jobs, the driver could experience equipment failure on the road. All maintenance checks must be documented, and a truck company who fails to maintain equipment could be held responsible for a trucking accident if the error resulted in an accident. Equipment malfunction could mean any number of things, including brake failure and tire blowouts.
In addition, road conditions, construction, and inclement weather can all cause issues for truck drivers. Unpaved roads or potholes could damage a truck’s tires or cause the driver to lose control, and sleet or snow could cause a big rig to lose traction, making it impossible for the driver to brake.
Trucks can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds. When they crash, the consequences of such a collision can be devastating. If you were involved in a truck accident, make sure you call us as soon as possible. Our skilled San Jose truck accident attorneys understand these collisions can often result in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. If you or your family is suffering the consequences of negligent driving or maintenance practices, we can help you recover some compensation for your loss. Medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering are all things that can be at least partially compensated if you file a personal injury suit against the responsible party. Habbas & Associates has more than 175 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. We can take a look at your situation and begin to build a case proving that you or your loved one was harmed by the negligence of another person or group. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us at (888) 387-4053 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today. We look forward to speaking with you.