Trucks are a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure, transporting goods from warehouses to stores across the country. While their services are important, truck drivers need to maintain a certain level of safety to ensure that their 80,000 pound vehicles don’t cause a catastrophic collision. Not only does the damage tend to be more severe in truck crashes than passenger vehicle crashes, but trucking companies will often hire an investigator to determine what caused the accident. These investigators are especially interested in determining whether or not there was something the truck driver could have done to prevent the collision.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fatal truck crashes increased by 20 percent between 2009 and 2013, and crashes resulting in injuries increased by 55 percent between 2009 and 2014. While truck drivers and their vehicles aren’t always responsible for collisions, the FMCSA reported that in 55 percent of crashes involving a truck, whether they involved one or more vehicles, the truck was responsible for the collision. Through their Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), the FMCSA found that the three most common causes of what they called “critical events” were:
- 32 percent of crashes were caused by the truck running out of its travel lane, either off the road or into a different lane.
- 29 percent of crashes were caused by the driver losing control of the vehicle due to shifting cargo, speeding, poor road conditions, systems failure, etc.
- 22 percent of crashes were caused when the truck rear-ended a vehicle in their current travel lane.
The FMCSA also tracked the critical reasons for collisions though their study, and discovered that the driver was responsible for 87 percent of all crashes, compared to 10 percent of crashes caused by vehicle failure, and only 3 percent of failures caused by environmental conditions. The four critical reasons assigned to drivers were:
- Decision: 38 percent of crashes were caused by poor decision making on the part of the driver, whether it was misjudging the speed of other vehicles on the road, speeding, not compensating for road or weather conditions, following too closely behind a vehicle, etc.
- Recognition: 28 percent of crashes were caused by driver attention issues like failing to properly pay attention to the road or their surroundings, distractions from outside or inside their vehicle, failing to adequately observe the situation, etc.
- Non-Performance: 12 percent of crashes were caused by physical impairments like falling asleep, seizures, a heart attack, etc.
- Performance: 9 percent of crashes were caused by issues related to the driver’s performance, like overcompensating, panicking, poor directional control, etc.
Driver fatigue, while difficult to properly track and report, is the most common factor leading up to a crash involving a truck. There are a variety of rules and regulations that are intended to ensure truck drivers get the rest they need, but due to busy schedules, pressure from trucking companies, moonlighting at other jobs to make enough money to support themselves and their families, etc., drivers can find themselves nodding off at highway speeds far too often. Truck crashes can easily result in serious injuries like traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuries that affect victims for the rest of their lives, and in the worst cases can result in death.
If you or a loved was injured in a truck crash, it’s important to seek qualified legal representation to help you secure the compensation you need to pay for medical costs or other damages that may result from the crash. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our truck accident attorneys know what to look for when determining fault, and will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a case consultation, or call us at (813) 336-3348 to set up a meeting with one of our truck accident lawyers.
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