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The Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

Springer & Steinberg, P.C.

97% of people hurt or killed in trucking accidents are in passenger vehicles. With numbers like that, it’s crucial that both truck drivers and their employers take the necessary steps to avoid trucking accidents whenever possible. That starts by taking a hard look at the most common causes of trucking accidents.

Extreme Weather

Overturned semi-trucks are one of the scariest things you can see on the I-70. Yet the pressure truckers face in delivering their cargo on time pushes many to drive through hazardous conditions such as fog, extreme wind, and heavy snow. Truck drivers who go too fast through extreme fog risk rear-ending a car driver or even going off the road if they can’t see an upcoming turn.

Driving in high winds endangers everyone: The trucker, other drivers, and emergency services. When wind speeds rise above 60mph, they’re capable of knocking semi-trucks onto their side. The extra surface area of the trailer allows the wind to apply greater force. If a truck tips the wrong way, they can potentially fall on top of a passenger vehicle.

Rain and snow present additional dangers. If a truck follows too closely, they may not have the traction to slow down before crash into the car ahead of them. Likewise, if a trucker was not properly trained, they may not know how to slow down in snow without locking their brakes. This type of accident, caused by both weather and improper training, can send a truck sliding across the road.

Technical Issues

The law requires that truck drivers inspect their rigs for proper maintenance before they start their route. It’s crucial that drivers do this often as even high-quality parts wear down over time.

Those who frequently drive on highways and interstates have likely seen flayed tires and other road debris on the side of the road. This is often caused by pushing old tires beyond safe mileage standards.

A truck tire weighs 250lbs on average. When that weight moves toward a passenger vehicle at 60mph, the consequences are catastrophic. Road debris from negligent truck maintenance injures more than 200,000 drivers and pedestrians per year. In some cases, flying road debris even results in wrongful death.

Wires are another common culprit. There are many causes for truck fires, but the wiring between the cab and the trailer gets worn down over time. The wires can lose their coating, become exposed, and cause a fire on the road. These types of accidents are more common with trucks pulling refrigerated trailers.

Undertrained Drivers

Truck drivers must earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and complete a certain number of training hours before they’re allowed on the road. Some new drivers neglect training and go on their first delivery before they are ready.

Untrained drivers are a risk on the road as they are not familiar with proper techniques for braking, turning, and passing. New drivers often misunderestimate how their vehicle handles at high speeds. In a worst-case scenario, a new truck driver might not understand the limitations of their side mirrors and may attempt to change lanes while someone is right next to them.

Unsafe Passing

Trucks usually stay in the slow lane. However, some drivers push to get ahead of traffic. When a truck passes another truck, they cause traffic delays to everyone behind them and risk the lives of those in front of them.

A truck entering the fast lane must push their accelerator harder than they normally would. This can make it difficult to brake if the cars ahead of them are not moving at the same speed or if they need to brake suddenly.

Pressure from an oncoming truck may force drivers out of their lane, resulting in unsafe merging or even sending the car onto the shoulder. This can be especially deadly on narrow mountain roads, like those in Western Colorado. When truckers engage in unsafe passing, they are risking the lives of everyone around them to cut just a few seconds off their commute.

Distracted Drivers

It can be difficult to stay focused while at the wheel, especially on an 11-hour drive. Truck drivers may lose focus while on the road. While cellphones are often involved in distracted driving claims, the culprit is usually daydreaming.

Getting lost in thought causes all kinds of motorists to drive by instinct alone. However, this can prove dangerous as unexpected traffic or sudden braking can cause a driver to rear-end the car in front of them.

Given the fatality rate for truck crashes, it is especially important that truck drivers keep their eyes and their minds on the roads to avoid disaster.

Fatigue

Fatigue affects tens of thousands of truck drivers across the country and is arguably the most common cause of late-night trucking accidents. Trucking companies push drivers to make their quotas on time, causing many truck drivers to work past the legal limit.

Legally, truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving without rest. However, many push this even farther, creating an Hours of Service (HoS) violation. Fatigued drivers pushed to their limits represent an enormous risk as their vehicles are, on average, ten times heavier than passenger cars around them.

While truck drivers may have timetables to keep, they also have a responsibility to drive safely and avoid accidents.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a trucking accident, you may have a case. If you’d like an experienced Denver auto injury attorney from Springer & Steinberg to evaluate your claim, please call (877) 342-1230 or send us an email.

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