Causes of Truck Accidents & How To Keep Yourself Safe

Worried about having an accident with a semi-truck? Don’t be. Learn what causes trucking accidents and how you can stay safe.

Did you know from 2001 – 2003, 141,000 large trucks were involved in accidents that either caused a death or injury? These stats come from a joint study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Hey – we get it!

Statistics don’t make for the most thrilling reading in the world but they could save your life, the lives of your family members, or prevent you from experiencing a serious injury – such as the loss of use of your limbs.

From these statistics, you’ll learn exactly how to drive so that you can minimize the likelihood that you’re involved in an 18-wheeler trucking accident. None of the driving adjustments are major or complicated either.

Findings of Large Truck Crash Causation Study

  1. 32% of Large Trucks Ran Into Another Lane or Off the Road

This statistic does not include situations where truck drivers had to swerve to avoid irresponsible motorists. These truck accidents were fully the responsibility of the truck driver.

So, when you see a semi truck, you’re safest when you’re well behind it. Being next to it puts you at risk.

  1. 29% of Large Trucks Drove Too Fast for Conditions, Had a Cargo Shift, or Experienced a Vehicle Systems Failure

You can’t do much to anticipate cargo shifts or vehicle systems failures. There’s no way you can observe and avoid those. However, you can – like before – drive in back of the truck to best guarantee your safety. Be especially mindful of trucks with large cargo loads.

And just like with regular motorists, you need to heighten your awareness for danger when weather conditions get nasty.

  1. 22% of Large Trucks Collided with the Rear End of Another Car in Their Lane

This one boils down to simple physics. An object traveling at the same speed as you, with much more mass (like that of a semi-truck), takes a much further distance to slow down than an object with a much smaller mass (like a Toyota Corolla).

As a result, the much larger truck is going to have an increased likelihood of hitting cars in front of it. To keep yourself safe, don’t drive directly in front of large trucks! Make sure to let large trucks pass if they are following your vehicle too closely.

  1. What Causes Large Truck Driver Errors?

Here are the driver-related errors, along with the percentage of accidents caused by the error:

  • Traveling too fast for conditions (23%)
  • Unfamiliar with roadway (22%)
  • Over-the-counter drug use (17%)
  • Inadequate surveillance (14%)
  • Fatigue (13%)
  • Felt under work pressure from carrier (10%)
  • Made illegal maneuver (9%)
  • Inattention (9%)
  • External distraction (8%)
  • Following too close (5%)
  • Jackknife (5%)
  • Illness (3%)
  • Internal distraction (2%)
  • Illegal drugs (2%)
  • Alcohol (1%)

If you notice, illegal drugs and alcohol are the bottom two reasons.

You’ll Never Be Able to Protect Yourself Perfectly, So Do These Three Things

  1. When you see a large truck, you shouldn’t panic. Sometimes, the flow of traffic will put you in a position where you’re stuck in front of a large truck. It happens.
  2. When it does, you can either pull over, turn off the road, or move a couple lanes over and let them pass.
  3. Generally, you can dramatically increase your safety by driving behind large trucks. And if you’re too impatient and have to pass, be extra cautious when you go around the side, and don’t stay directly in front of the truck.

Simply doing these three things greatly reduces your chances of getting involved in a potentially fatal semi-truck accident. And if you have been in an accident with an 18-wheeler, contact a Dallas personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

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