Looked at in one sense, commercial truck drivers are some of the safest drivers on the road. They go through training other drivers don’t and they have much more experience behind the wheel than most of us. Per mile traveled, they have fewer accidents than other drivers.
But truck drivers are only human, and sometimes they cause accidents.
The result can be disastrous, because, although statistics show professional truck drivers are safer than other drivers, there’s no question that commercial trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Because they are so much larger and heavier than other vehicles, a semitrailer or other large truck carries tremendous force in any collision.
Top causes of truck accidents
It can be difficult to determine one single cause for a crash, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has studied truck accidents and found that brake problems was likely the greatest single factor behind 29% of all truck accidents.
Beyond brake problems, many of the other major causes involve behavior and decisions on the part of the drivers.
Truckers work for an industry where speed is a priority. Their employers push them to drive long distances in short amounts of time. In this situation, sometimes drivers will get fatigued and burned out. This can lead to poor decisions and performance.
State and federal regulations limit truck drivers’ working hours, and require their employers to give them adequate rest time. However, there’s limited enforcement of these regulations, and there are lots of economic incentives to keep drivers on the road longer.
Another common factor is a truck driver’s lack of familiarity with a location. This is only natural when a driver is headed to a destination that’s new to them, but when they’re facing pressure to get there quickly, and they’re driving an 18-wheeler, this can lead to some dangerous situations.
This problem could be alleviated through better driver training.
Some truck accidents are attributable to substance abuse by drivers. This can include alcohol and cannabis as well as various stimulants the drivers might take in an effort to stay awake through long drives.
Who is liable?
The injured may recover compensation for their damages after an accident caused by the negligence of another party. In an ordinary car accident case, this might mean holding only the negligent driver liable for damages. In a commercial truck accident case, the injured may also be able to hold the truck driver’s employer liable. This increases the likelihood that the injured can recover the full amount of compensation they deserve.