The Five Most Common Truck Accident Causes

By Neil Kalra

Transporting and delivering products via truck is one of the deadliest occupations in the United States. However, commercial drivers are not the only ones who are severely injured, or even die in a serious wreck. It is common for over-the road (18-wheeler) truckers to spend less than two months per year at home. Because they get such little time off, OTR truckers are likely to be tired and stressed when they’re on the road. But local delivery drivers (FED-Ex, Dominos, etc.) are pushed just as hard.

Periodically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly conduct a Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS). The following is a list of the most common causes of commercial truck collisions in the latest LTTCS. You’ll probably notice that some of them can combine with other listed factors to cause a serious OTR big rig (or local delivery truck) injury wreck

  1. Driver Error/Bad Maneuvering: These are the leading cause of commercial truck wrecks. Researchers categorized several different kinds of errors and determined the most common mistakes that led to the most collisions had to do with a trucker’s bad maneuvering decisions; either through inexperience, carelessness, or some sort of inattention.

  2. Distracted Driving: Distracted driving has risen from an infrequent cause to the second leading reason behind commercial truck accidents since 2006; almost exclusively due to the advent of the smartphone and its many distractions. Distraction causes all drivers to lose awareness of their surroundings. This makes everyone on the road more vulnerable to roadside hazards because reaction times are slower and neither driver has enough time to perform a successful evasive maneuver.

  3. Drowsy or Impaired Driving: Viewed by the two federal agencies as “non-performance,” there are several forms of this behavior: the third leading cause of commercial vehicle crashes. This includes drowsy driving (exhaustion), physical impairments that disable the behind-the-wheel trucker (heart attack/stroke/seizures). But the most common impaired driving cause is operating the truck under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Local and OTR truckers often use “keep-alert” uppers. But coming down from them and the accompanying fatigue can also lead to a serious truck wreck.

  4. Poor Driver Training and Truck Maintenance: Both commercial drivers and their transportation employers are legally bound to keep their vehicles properly maintained. However, they don’t normally do this because of the costs involved and the time it takes to maintain their trucks. They need to be “on the road, not in the shop,” (even though the latter is a legal requirement).So, when they fail to do this and a tragic accident occurs, the company is held liable for the considerable – and serious – damages. The LTCCS says that malfunctioning vehicles were responsible for 10 percent of all the truck wrecks they reviewed. Likewise, transport owners are required by the FMCSA to assure that their drivers are well-trained and in good health. But again, these same trucking companies fall behind in this obligation too. So what we have here is too many poorly maintained trucks being driven by too few truly experienced (and not altogether healthy) drivers. And that’s why this category is the fourth highest cause of truck wrecks.

  5. Rushing to keep Schedule: Many trucking companies also demand that their drivers reach certain destinations in an often unreasonably short period of time. And many other factors come into play such as: poor weather, traffic snarl ups and other distracting events. And some runs cannot be achieved in the time the company wants. The deadline pressure drivers receive from their employers (often with their jobs in peril if they fail) causes them to speed, or drive for more than the legal maximum number of consecutive hours, or cut some other corner to “make up the time.”

Rushing to make time, often on drugs because the driver’s been “in the saddle” too long in a poorly maintained truck, and/or the driver wasn’t fully trained before climbing into that FedEx delivery vehicle to work a 12 our shift, is it any surprise that truckers from local deliveries to long-haul drivers are feeling the pressure to achieve the less-achievable; while we’re threatened because they feel that pressure?


Whether you were, or a family member was, injured due by a commercial vehicle; you may be entitled to full benefits and compensation. Know your rights and get the answers you deserve.

The attorneys at Kalra Law Firm are dedicated to getting all accident victims the compensation they deserve. Call our office now to speak with one of our experienced commercial truck wreck lawyers to represent you in your case. We offer a free initial consultation and will not charge unless we win your case. If you have any questions about your distracted driving accident, call our New York City and Queens accident lawyers today at (718) 897-2211. www.unionlawyer.com


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