The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry, estimates well over 100,000 trucking accidents each year that occur on interstates, highways, and byways. If a Pennsylvania driver knows the most common causes of trucking accidents, he or she may be more likely to avoid such accidents. Below are some of the most common causes of trucking accidents.
A driver’s use of prescription medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol can affect the truck driver’s ability to react in time to avoid an accident. Usage of drugs (both over the counter as well as prescription drugs) may also affect a driver’s ability to properly handle such a large vehicle.
Lack of sleep can lead truck drivers to not properly handling their 18-wheelers on the highways and roads. According to an FMCSA study called “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study,” 13% of Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash.
Head-on accidents occur when large trucks collide with other vehicles head-on, and rear-end collisions are crashes where large trucks drive strike another vehicle from behind. Both types of collisions are incredibly dangerous, especially when a smaller vehicle is involved because of the weight of the large truck and the load it’s carrying.
Jackknife accidents happen when trucks brake suddenly and their trailers swing out to a ninety-degree angle. The weight of the trailer brings it forward against the traction of the cab. This is extremely dangerous for the truck and other drivers on the road.
Signs signifying blind spots—“if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”—are common on large commercial trucks, and for good reasons. Semi-trucks have significant blind spots where the driver loses sight of other vehicles in its surrounding. These blind spots are much bigger than in regular sized vehicles.
Work zones and road construction present serious hazards. If a truck driver is unable to maneuver their rig or is behaving negligently, an accident in a road construction zone can cause serious injury or death to other motorists or even those working alongside the road.
Although driver negligence accounts for a large percentage of trucking accidents, it is not the only cause for such accidents. Mechanical and environmental factors can also be to blame.
Environmental factors also contribute to trucking accidents. Some examples include: weather, traffic flow or congestion, roadway structure issues or changes in traffic patterns.
The most notable mechanical cause of a trucking accident is brake failure. Many factors, including driver operation of the brakes, the condition or age of the brakes, and/or how a truck is loaded, thereby affects brake performance and can be the culprit for a brake failure.
Tire blowouts can happen with any vehicle, often forcing it in uncontrollable, sporadic directions. Under these circumstances, imagine trying to control a truck weighing almost 40 tons. This type of accident often causes significant damage because the driver does not have control over the truck, which leads to a massive crushing impact. High speed + loss of control + heavy machine = devastating consequences.
As you can see, the reasons behind large trucking accidents are varied and complicated. Being aware of common causes of trucking accidents may help you avoid such instances in the future. Be a safe Pennsylvania driver and be aware of the truck drivers in your path. Give large trucks a very wide berth. If, however, you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a trucking accident, remember that one of the most important steps is to seek representation from a qualified, personal injury lawyer familiar with all the nuances of the law when a trucking accident occurs in our state. For a free consultation with our team at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., contact us today.