Common Causes of Truck Accidents | Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.
What Are The Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

What Are The Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

While car accidents are often bad, truck accidents can make you rethink just how bad an accident can be. In this context, trucks are not personal pickup trucks, but rather large 18-wheeler commercial trucks with cargo. They’re necessary for our economy, but when they get into an accident, it can be catastrophic.

With a truck accident, traffic delays are the least of anyone’s worries. They cause significant damage to whatever they hit, far more than your average vehicle. This can lead to serious injuries and potentially death. Even if the passengers are alright, they may not be able to afford the car repairs. In fact, the car may be unsalvagable. And if the truck flips, odds are multiple cars are also going to be affected.

Thankfully, car accidents involving trucks are down year-over-year. Truck accidents currently only make up 9% of vehicles involved in fatal car crashes, and after a record high of 118,500 trucks involved in accidents in 2019, it’s good that recent statistics report that they’ve only gone down. They’ll continue to go down if we’re all aware of the common truck accident causes we can help to avoid.

5 Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are not the same as normal car accidents. Driving a truck is different from driving a car, so much so that it requires an additional license and schooling. Due to a truck’s long length, truck drivers have more blind spots than a typical car. Their schooling teaches them how they can account for this difference when driving. With this in mind, there are things both truck drivers and car drivers on the road can notice or do to avoid truck accidents.

#1. Failing to Keep Proper Distance from Truck

One of the most common causes of truck accidents is cars driving too close to trucks. Truck drivers are naturally at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping track of the road with their considerable blind spots. Because of this, drivers on the road must be at a proper distance from the truck. They can’t be so close that the truck driver can’t see them in the mirror in case they brake or so close that if they turn, they turn right into a car.

It’s just as important to keep a far distance in front of a truck driver. All vehicles take longer to come to a complete stop the faster they’re going and the larger they are, but for trucks, this is exponentially true. If a car hits the brakes in front of a truck, there needs to be several truck lengths of space between them, not car lengths. Trucks will not slow down in time, even if they hit the brakes immediately.

If you’re in an accident where a truck rear-ends you because it did not keep a proper distance from you, that accident may be the fault of the truck driver. Unless you pull in front of them and don’t give them enough time to slow down, it’s their responsibility as much, if not more, than yours to keep a proper distance away.

#2. Driving While Fatigued

Truck drivers have many rules regarding how far and how often they can drive to avoid fatigue. It’s common for truck drivers to drive for many long stretches at a time so it’s understandable for them to be fatigued. But those rules aren’t going to stop some companies from breaking the rules or overworking drivers. There are even drivers who may voluntarily drive more than they’re supposed to, putting others at risk.

Drivers are only supposed to drive a maximum of 11 hours a day, after a rest period of 10 consecutive hours. Driving more than that risks becoming fatigued. Despite this, 18% of truck drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel. The human body can only do so much, so it’s important that truck drivers rest before driving and that employers do not push them.

#3. Speeding and Driving Recklessly

Going a little fast may seem like nothing if you’re going with the flow of traffic, but the flow of traffic changes around a truck. Don’t speed around a truck in a flash or try to slip into a tight spot in front of them. That’s dangerous driving behavior that doesn’t take into account how much longer if takes for a truck to slow down or react than a car.

The same goes for truck drivers. Truck drivers have to move at the speed limit, too, and not allow themselves to be distracted. Leaning even a little bit to grab something in the vehicle can lead to your cargo swaying into other lanes. Truck drivers can’t afford to make even the slightest off-kilter movement.

#4. Failing to Properly Train Drivers

As stated before, truck drivers need to get a special license to drive commercial trucks. Aside from already having a normal driver’s license, to get a commercial truck driver’s license, you need to:

  • Fill out a Commercial Learner’s Permit form and hand it in in person.
  • Pay a fee for the permit.
  • Pass a Knowledge Test and Road Test.
  • Pass a vision screening test.
  • Attend and keep proof that you took a commercial driver’s education program for commercial motor vehicles.
  • Take a road test at a local Driver’s License Center.
  • Pay the license and endorsement fee.

There are Commercial Driving License (CDL) training schools that partner with companies to get their drivers ready as fast as possible. This can lead to having drivers on the road who are ill-prepared to handle a truck.

#5. Poor Cargo Loading

Sometimes it has nothing to do with the drivers, but with how the loaders strapped everything down. When things are not properly loaded, you can lead to several problems inside the cargo container. It’s a cargo box that the truck is pulling, it has strong steel doors, but those doors aren’t invincible. They’re made to stand up to tough materials, but over time, they wear down, and poor loading can lead to cargo eventually breaking the door.

If the truck is carrying external cargo, such as cars or wood that have been strapped down to a platform or loader, this can lead to things becoming undone and causing an accident. A truck driver could be driving properly, without any issues or mistakes, and the cargo could come loose. Suddenly, there’s a giant pile-up behind them and they have no idea why.

What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?

Even if you drive carefully, you may still find yourself involved in a truck accident. The first thing you should always do in any car accident is to make sure you and your passengers are alright, and then check if anyone else was injured. After that, you should make sure to record the damages to your vehicle and/or person for future records.

Once you’ve recovered, contact the injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. to get the compensation you deserve. Don’t pay for an accident you didn’t cause more than you have to. We’re here to help.

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

Rachel D. Olszewski, an attorney at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., is a dedicated advocate for clients who have suffered unjust harm. Following the legacy of her esteemed family members, Rachel specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal defense. She is actively involved in professional associations and serves on the board of the Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation. Rachel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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