Due to the excessive size of the vehicles, trucks present a unique hazard on our roads. The potential for serious injury and destruction of property escalates dramatically when a truck is involved in the accident.
A 2006 report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicated that there are approximately 141,000 truck accidents a year. Of these, about 77,000 were caused by the truck driver.
Truck driver fatigue is the leading cause of truck accidents. Many truckers put in extremely long hours on the road without taking sufficient breaks. As a result, many run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel or losing focus on the road.
Another common cause is prescription drug use. Unfortunately, many truck drivers drink alcohol or take prescription drugs on their shift. Often, they abuse these drugs in an attempt to stay awake during excessively long shifts.
Trucks carrying hazardous or flammable materials run a greater risk of causing an accident. Tankers carrying liquid loads need to be at least three quarters full. Otherwise, the liquid has the potential to splash around, making it more difficult for the driver to control the truck.
Jackknifing is a major contributor to truck accidents as well. During a skid, the trailer can spin out and form a right angle with the cab. This is generally caused by equipment failure, improper braking, or icy roads. However, more often than not, jackknifing is the result of the collision, not the cause.
Other causes due to trucker error include:
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Unfamiliarity with truck route
- Illegal maneuvers
- Driving the truck without the necessary training
- Failure to secure heavy loads
- Loading trucks beyond maximum capacity
- Aggressive driving
A large portion of truck accidents are caused by automobile drivers. The most common cause in these accidents is driving in the truck's blind spot. Due to their large size, trucks have a sizeable blind spot where other vehicles can't be detected.
Other reasons automobile drivers cause truck accidents include:
- Changing lanes abruptly in front of a truck
- Passing a truck on the wrong side
- Driving while intoxicated
- Cell phone use
- Adverse weather conditions