Frequent Causes of Semi and Commercial Truck Accidents
Semi and Commercial truck accidents – such as those involving “big rigs” like 18 wheelers and tractor-trailers – are often devastating. Sadly, many of them are also entirely preventable.
Common causes of semi and commercial truck accidents include:
- Improper maintenance or other maintenance failures. Federal trucking regulations require that drivers and companies perform comprehensive maintenance to ensure that vehicles are in safe condition. Unfortunately, in attempts to save time and money, critical maintenance is sometimes postponed, which can result in highly dangerous vehicle conditions (such as a lack of properly functioning brakes).
- Failure to perform inspections. Commercial interstate drivers subject to federal regulation are required to perform pre-trip inspections for truck and load safety, and also at specified intervals thereafter to ensure that loads are properly secured.
- Driver fatigue. Federal Hours of Service Regulations have been adopted that require mandated rest and breaks at certain points or times in the course of a trip. Nonetheless, driver fatigue is often a factor in many crashes.
- Drunk driving. Tragically, drivers sometimes drive while intoxicated. State regulations prohibit driving while intoxicated, and federal regulations governing trucking prohibit any consumption of alcohol within 4 hours prior to driving.
- Driving under the influence of drugs. Not only may drivers not drive while under the influence of illegal drugs, they may also not consume certain legal drugs, such as pep pills, prior to driving or while driving.
- Reckless driving. Drivers sometimes become frustrated, leading them to take unnecessary risks that put the lives of others in danger.
- Speeding kills. Speeding is particularly dangerous when undertaken by semis and other large trucks, as their stopping distance is significantly longer than cars and passenger vehicles.
- Sudden lane changes. Sudden lane changes are highly dangerous, both because trailers can easily jackknife or swerve into other lanes, and because a sudden shift with a heavy load can quickly become critically unstable.
- Failure to stop or yield. While most drivers observe the rules of the road, there are some semi drivers who flaunt these rules, knowing that if other drivers fail to yield to them, the other drivers will be the ones injured.
- Improperly loaded or oversized vehicles. Carrying tens of thousands of pounds of cargo can be highly dangerous if not secured correctly. Not only must a vehicle be proper for the load to be carried, the load must also be secured safely at all times.