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Truck crash at a busy intersection

The Top 3 Causes of Trucking Accidents

Each year, truck drivers across America are involved in over 400,000 crashes, of which about 125,000 (30%) are fatal. In a given year, roughly 1-in-8 truck drivers will be involved in some kind of accident. That begs the question, what’s driving these wrecks? What are some of the top causes of truck accidents?

Improper Merging

About 1-in-10 truck crashes are the direct result of improper merging techniques on the part of the truck driver. At the same time, the majority of truck crashes caused by smaller vehicles are also the result of improper merging techniques.

It’s not uncommon for a car to pass a truck, merge in front of them, linger in their no-zone (the blind spot in front of the truck), and then hit the brakes. The truck driver cannot see what the smaller car is doing and may not even realize they were there if they weren’t paying attention to their surroundings.

Both drivers can reduce the risk of these crashes by identifying the truck’s no-zone and ensuring that they pass the truck quickly and merging into the travel lane only when it is safe to do so. As a general rule, if you cannot see the truck driver’s reflection in the mirror, they cannot see you. Similarly, when you’re merging back into the travel lane, make sure you can see the entire truck in your rearview mirror before changing lanes.

Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are permitted to work a maximum of 11 hours per day. While the maximum should not necessarily be the norm, a truck driver shortage has many putting in longer hours, especially around the holiday season. High demand, combined with pressure from management is causing an increase in both driver fatigue and crashes caused by tired truck drivers. A study by AAA examining crashes caused by drowsy drivers found that roughly 380,000 wrecks are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Although it’s unclear how many of these incidents involve truck drivers, a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggests it could be as high as 13% of all truck crashes.

Negligent Maintenance

A large number of crashes are caused by negligent maintenance on the part of the trucking company. These incidents include failed brakes, tire blowouts, onboard fires, and other incidents that could have been prevented had the trucking company provided proper maintenance.

There’s some evidence from the FMCSA to suggest that maintenance issues are one of the top contributing factors to highway truck accidents. In their study, the administration found that 28% of truck crashes were attributed to failed brakes, 6% to tire blowouts, and 5% to onboard fires. If true, these combined maintenance issues would contribute for nearly 40% of all semi-truck accidents in the United States.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in a truck crash, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer from Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC, please don’t hesitate to call (614) 450-2223 or send us an email.

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