With a 20% increase in trucking accidents over the last two decades according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), this multi-billion dollar industry causes severe health and safety risks, not to mention death and injury, to a great number of people across the United States. When in a crash, trucks typically cause much greater damage and harm than automobile accidents, as they are 20 times the size and weight of most other vehicles on the road.
While each immediate case is individual and unique, the causes for most truck accidents fall into five categories.
What are the most common causes of trucking accidents?
The most common causes of trucking accidents are driver error, truck equipment failure, weather conditions, improper loading and improper care in selecting a truck driver or company to haul a shipper’s load.
1. Driver Error
Of all the causes of trucking accidents, driver error is ten times more likely to be the cause of the crash than any of the other factors according to the FMSCA. Factors such as driver fatigue, inattention, distractions, or substance abuse are the most common causes of driver error. Any one of these factors can lead to unnecessary risks and a driver’s inability to react to the dangers on our roadways, thereby causing a truck crash.
2. Truck Equipment Failure
The second most common cause of trucking accidents is equipment failure. Equipment failures can include design and manufacturing errors like defective tires or failure to provide reverse-detection warning devices. Equipment failures can also include mechanical issues such as improperly maintained brakes or tires. The FMSCA requires every truck driver and company to perform a pre-trip inspection and to perform regular inspections and maintenance of their trucks throughout the year. If these reviews are performed there should be no reason for mechanical failures, like worn-out tires. However, the tragic truth is that the FMSCA rules and guidelines are all too commonly ignored, leading to many truck accidents.
3. Weather conditions
Weather conditions have a major impact on the safety of big trucks. Due to the heavy weight of the trucks and their loads, braking distance is often hampered (increased) in bad weather. The simple fact is that big trucks cannot be stopped as quickly or steered as easily as cars. All too often commercial truck drivers don’t account for these limitations during adverse weather conditions. This failure to accommodate to local weather and road conditions leads to many trucking accidents each year.
4. Improper loading
When a truck’s load is not safely configured or distributed on the trailer, the load can cause the truck to malfunction when moving. A common type of improper loading results in an imbalanced load, causing a truck to top over when it would otherwise remain upright. Improper loading can also lead to a load not being properly secured, then falling off the truck and onto the roadways in the lanes of traffics. There are all too many examples of this particular type of improper loading.
5. Improper care in selecting a truck driver or company
Finally, a growing cause of trucking accidents is the improper selection of truck drivers and companies to haul the shippers’ loads across our highways. While this is a growing cause of trucking accidents, shippers who need their product shipped by trucks, all too often simply contact a truck driver or company without ever checking to see if they or their trucks are in compliance with the FMSCA regulations to safely ship their loads.