Big trucks can pose significant safety issues to other vehicle drivers and passengers. Approximately 9% of all fatal accidents in 2020 involved large trucks. The occupants of other vehicles account for 71% of deaths in large truck accidents, compared to 17% for truck passengers.
A variety of factors contribute to large truck collisions. These factors range from a lack of maintenance to truck driver errors.
The regular maintenance and inspections of each truck are the responsibility of truck drivers and trucking companies. Drivers must inspect their trucks before and after every run, while truck companies inspect and repair any truck components. Taking these steps is essential to keep other drivers safe on the road.
However, nearly 10% of truck accidents are from mechanical issues with the truck. A big truck is likely to suffer one of the following mechanical failures:
- Brake Malfunctions
The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) reports that a truck with brake issues has a 170% higher probability of being coded as a critical factor in an accident. Faulty brake lining, oil contamination, and leaky fluid lines can lead to brake failure. If the air supply in the brake system fails, the brakes can lock up, resulting in an accident.
- Poor Cargo Loading
An imbalanced cargo can affect the truck operation due to the uneven distribution of the cargo weight. It can put a tremendous strain on the truck’s frame, suspension, tires, and axles. As a result of this strain, a truck may tip or jackknife during a sharp turn or heavy braking.
A truck using worn-out tie-downs to hold cargo could threaten other drivers as well.
The pressure from the payload can cause the tie-downs to snap, and the load can fall off the truck and hit other vehicles.
- Worn Out Tires and Blowouts
Improper air pressure can cause tires to wear down quickly and unevenly. The tires’ sidewalls become more flexible, causing them to overheat and degrade the rubber’s quality. As a result, the tires can explode due to the quick loss of air pressure. Incorrectly installed studs or bolts during tire installation may also rip or puncture tires.
- Driver Fatigue
Cargo-carrying truck drivers may only work a shift of 11 hours after 10 hours off under FMCSA regulations. However, drivers often deal with fatigue due to long shifts and lack of sleep. About 13% of truck drivers were fatigued at the time of their collisions, according to the FMCSA.
Drowsy drivers are less likely to react to potential hazards in time, increasing the risk of a crash. Additionally, accidents happen more often in the first hour of driving. It’s common for drivers who sleep in their trucks’ sleeper berths to suffer from sleep inertia after waking up. Sleep inertia affects short-term memory, alertness, cognition, and reaction time.
- Impaired Driving
Federal regulations prohibit truck drivers from drinking alcohol while on duty and 4 hours before driving. A truck driver cannot drink for 8 hours following an accident or until they have taken an alcohol test.
However, 7% of fatally injured big truck drivers had blood-alcohol concentrations over the legal limit of 0.08% in 2020, up from 3% in 2019. Intoxicated truck drivers cannot operate a tractor-trailer or semi-truck under the impairment of their mental faculties, sense of reasoning, and judgment.
Taking prescription and narcotic drugs can also cause impairment behind the wheel. The use of illegal drugs contributed to over 2% of semi-truck accidents, but 17% involved over-the-counter drugs. Truck drivers may become drowsy after taking sleeping, allergy, and cold medications.
- Driver Error
Driver error is the most common cause of truck collisions, accounting for 87% of accidents. There are four critical reasons for errors:
The driver’s skills and performance did not contribute to the accident. Instead, physical factors caused the accident, such as drowsy driving or suffering a health condition.
Distracted driving occurs when the driver is inattentive or pays attention to an external distraction, such as a billboard. Moreover, the truck driver did not assess the accident adequately.
Truck drivers may not use their judgment appropriately while on the road. Speeding, tailgating, and misjudging other drivers’ speeds and directions can cause an accident.
A driver’s performance affects their ability to operate their trucks correctly. For instance, the truck drivers panicked, did not use reasonable directional control, or drove their vehicles inaccurately.
An Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
When a big truck causes your accident, the truck accident attorneys at Great West Injury Law have the resources to investigate your case. We understand federal trucking laws and explore the factors leading to the crash so that you can pursue compensation against the liable parties.
Call our law firm today to discuss the circumstances of your accident and to learn about your legal options in a free case evaluation.