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Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration estimates that about 475,000 accidents involving large trucks occur annually in the US resulting in 5,400 fatalities and 140,000 injuries each year. Although the precise circumstances of each accident is unique, certain factors that lead to accidents are more common than others.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2007 Large Truck Crash Causation Study, these are the most common causes of truck accidents when broken down among Driver Causes, Vehicle Causes and Environmental Causes:

Top 15 Driver Causes

  1. Prescription Drug Use
  2. Traveling Too Fast For Conditions
  3. Unfamiliar with Roadway
  4. Over-the-Counter Drug Use
  5. Inadequate Surveillance
  6. Fatigue
  7. Illegal Maneuver
  8. Inattention
  9. Exterior Distraction
  10. Inadequate Evasive Action
  11. Aggressive Driving Behavior
  12. Unfamiliar with Vehicle
  13. Following Too Closely
  14. False Assumption of Others’ Actions
  15. Under Pressure to Accept Additional Loads

Top 10 Vehicle Causes

  1. Brake Deficiency
  2. Tire Deficiency
  3. Jackknife Event
  4. Overweight
  5. Cargo Shift
  6. Light Failure
  7. Brake Failure
  8. Cargo Securement
  9. Vehicle View Obstruction (includes obstruction related to load, vehicle design, or other factor)
  10. Engine, Fuel System, or Exhaust Deficiency

Top 5 Environmental Causes

  1. Traffic Flow Interruption (including work zones, roadway immersion, prior crash, and traffic congestion)
  2. Roadway Related Factors
  3. Stop Required Prior to Crash (including stop required for traffic control device, and yield right of way requirement)
  4. Weather Related Factors
  5. Sight Obstructed by Road/Other Vehicle

Industry Practices That Contribute to Accidents

Various trucking company practices also contribute to the number of accidents. 

Work Hours

For example, federal regulations impose the following limits on driver work hours:

  • A driver may be on-duty for 14 consecutive hours if he has been off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours (naps or breaks count toward the 14 consecutive hours).
  • During the 14 consecutive hours that a driver can be on-duty, a driver is only permitted to drive for 11 total hours.
  • A driver can not drive after being on duty for 60 hours during 7 consecutive days, and 70 hours during 8 consecutive days.

Trucking companies will sometimes pressure drivers to adhere to delivery schedules that conflict with these limits. Truckers themselves will also violate such limits in an effort to earn more money. These practices inevitably lead to more driver fatigue and more accidents.

Substance Abuse

Although federal regulations require regular and random drug and alcohol testing of truck drivers, those drivers who fail drug tests often “job hop” from carrier to carrier without reporting their prior employment or dismissals. Unscrupulous trucking companies will hire job hoppers without conducting appropriate background checks. Like the work hour issue, the incentives of the trucking companies and the drivers combine to create the conditions for additional risk and accidents

About Levine Law

The Colorado Springs truck accident attorneys at Levine Law can help if you’ve been injured in a truck accident.  And our no/win, no/fee policy means that you pay nothing to Levine Law unless we recover damages or achieve a settlement for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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