Our economy relies on commercial trucks and their drivers. Whether it is a long-haul trucker transporting goods across the country or the local delivery truck bringing food to the grocery store, they make our comfortable way of life possible.
As important as commercial trucks are, we must recognize that these vehicles present significant risks. They are large and difficult to handle when compared to commuter vehicles. When accidents occur, these vehicles are more dangerous and deadly.
That is why motorists, truck drivers, and trucking companies need to understand the factors that lead to truck accidents. But what are these factors?
According to one New Orleans truck accident lawyer, “There are many factors that can contribute to truck accidents. In fact, most accidents will have multiple contributing factors. It is also very common to see accidents that result from drivers or companies cutting corners or feeling pressure to make tight deadlines.”
10 Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
What do we need to know about the causes of truck accidents? This post will cover the common causes of commercial truck accidents and what people need to know about them.
1. Driving Too Fast
Speeding is an obvious point, but it is one that must be mentioned if we are discussing the causes of truck accidents. Drivers are often under pressure to make unrealistic delivery schedules. Missing deadlines can also come with penalties. Many drivers will exceed the speed limit in order to meet these demands and avoid penalties.
2. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a significant risk in a car, but it is even riskier in a large commercial truck. Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention off the road or hands off the wheel. It could be as simple as changing the station on the radio. However, truck drivers may have additional reasons for distracted driving. For example, they might try to read or work on paperwork while driving to save time.
3. Driver Fatigue or Sleepiness
Many people have occasion to drive tired. However, truck drivers are subject to pressures that make drowsy and fatigued driving more common. The problem is even worse among long-haul drivers than it is for local drivers. However, driving under these conditions can slow a person’s reaction times. For the driver of a large truck, a split second of nodding off could lead to disaster.
4. Impaired Driving
Truck drivers are professionals, but they are not immune to making the same poor driving decision as many of the rest of us. Some truck drivers may drive after consuming alcohol or intoxicating drugs. This can distort the driver’s perception or slow their reaction times. Some drivers may even use drugs to cope with the pressures and demands of the job.
5. Aggressive and Reckless Driving
Needing to meet deadlines and feeling under pressure can also lead to aggressive or reckless driving. The driver might be stressed about being late and make unsafe lane changes or turns. They might also get angry and drive in ways that are aggressive. For example, they might cut other vehicles off or tailgate. While these behaviors are dangerous in any vehicle, the risk is much greater with a commercial truck.
6. Mechanical Failure and Poor Maintenance
Commercial trucks can also have mechanical failures. A faulty part can fail and cause the driver to lose control. You also can’t forget about the importance of proper truck maintenance. Some companies might try to save money by putting off maintenance or repairs. While it might save a little money at the time, it could cause a safety issue that will cost more if there is an accident.
7. Improper Loading
The way drivers load the truck can also be important. If you have a large trailer with thousands of pounds of cargo, it can affect the way the truck handles. With too much weight on one side or a load that is improperly secured, there can be a higher risk of accidents. In some cases, it can also be the risk of cargo falling from the truck and hitting other vehicles or pedestrians.
8. Bad Weather
Many truck drivers need to be on the road, rain or shine. Schedules must be met, and this is another way these pressures can create more risk. Driving in the rain, snow, or ice can make the vehicle harder to handle and harder to stop. Wind can also push large vehicles, and visibility issues can also be a risk. Some drivers may also fail to slow down and exercise caution in bad weather because they need to meet their deadlines.
9. Lack of Training or Experience
Large commercial trucks require significant skill to handle. For that reason, trucking companies need to ensure drivers have adequate training. They should also have enough experience before going out on their own or taking on long or difficult routes. Continued training and testing are also vital for ensuring the quality of drivers.
10. Other Drivers
We can’t forget about the roles other drivers may play in causing truck accidents. Motorists often fail to give these large vehicles the respect they deserve. People might ride in their blindspots or cut them off on the highway. If the vehicles around the truck are driving unsafely, it can make it harder for the truck driver to avoid accidents.
It’s worth noting that the specific causes and contributing factors of truck accidents may vary from case to case. Road safety authorities and trucking companies continually work to address these issues through driver training programs, vehicle maintenance protocols, and improved safety regulations.
Most of these accident causes are avoidable. Awareness can go a long way toward making these accidents less common. Additionally, trucking companies should review their schedules to make sure they are reasonable.