Common Causes of Truck Accidents

investigating truck accident

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a study in December 2016 to determine the most common causes of truck accidents. The IIHS notes that, although truck driving has gotten progressively safer for decades, 3,852 people died in large truck accidents in 2015 alone. The report examines 197 crash and control pairs and highlights several risk factors, including defective vehicles, fatigued truck drivers and short-haul exemptions.

Defective vehicles pose a significant threat on the road. Vehicle defects were found in nearly three-quarters of the crash-involved trucks in the study during a post-crash inspection. Trucks with brake violations were 50 percent more likely to crash, and out-of-service brake violations tripled the risk of crash. Trucks with any kind of out-of-service violation were more than four times as likely overall to be involved in a crash. Eric Teoh, the main author of the study, therefore calls for close inspection to keep defective trucks off the road: “highway patrol officers and roadside inspectors serve as the front line of defense when it comes to spotting unsafe trucks, and these efforts should continue.”

The study also examined the relationships between carriers and crashes. The study found that carriers with higher past crash rates tended to have a higher current crash risk. More specifically, carriers with at least 100 crashes per 1,000 trucks within the past two years had a 72 percent higher risk of crashing. Teoh noted that “some trucking groups have suggested that carriers shouldn’t be penalized for crashes that weren’t the fault of the driver or were unpreventable, but these results show counting all crashes is meaningful. We don’t always know who was at fault in crashes, and if something about a carrier’s operation puts them at high risk for not-at-fault crashes, that’s important to know too.”

Truck driver behavior also plays a significant role in crash risk, the study found. One significant problem for truck drivers is lack of sleep. Federal regulations allow shifts of 11 hours or less and up to 77 hours of driving per week to give drivers adequate time to rest. Drivers who reported driving at least twelve hours since sleeping were 86 percent more likely to crash than drivers who had been awake for less than eight hours. This problem is particularly present in drivers using short-haul exemptions. Short-haul drivers must comply with federal work and rest time regulations, but don’t have to record their service hours. Drivers using a short-haul exemption were nearly five times as likely to crash as those who weren’t using the exemption.

The study results suggest that federal regulations may not be strict enough to prevent crashes, or are not being widely followed. Drivers currently must log their hours in paper logs, which makes it easy for drivers to incorrectly record their driving time. Electronic logging devices may help to reduce crashes due to driver fatigue by making it more difficult for drivers to record inaccurate driving times, and these devices are required in all trucks by December 2017.

Other technological advancements, such as electronic stability control and collision warning systems, can also help to prevent truck accidents. We explored these technologies in an earlier blog post.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

If there’s one major takeaway from the IIHS study, it’s that truck accidents are a real danger on today’s roads. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a truck accident, we can conduct an investigation to help you receive full compensation. Schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at:

Fewer Trucking Accidents in the Future? Reasons to be Hopeful

truck technologies

“Trucks are overrepresented in fatal highway crashes,” according to John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition. The size of semi-trucks along with the stresses of driving trucks make them particularly vulnerable to accidents. But, as driving becomes more technologically advanced, more options become available to make semi-trucks safer.

Anti-Jackknifing Technology

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a semi-truck is jackknifing. Jackknifing is when the semi’s trailer moves out of sync with the cab and forms an L or V shape with the truck, which can easily lead to a dangerous accident. Jackknifing is usually a result of improper braking or over-braking, which can cause the wheels to lock and lose traction and make the tractor swing sideways. One common anti-jackknifing technology is anti-lock brakes, which lessen the effects of over-braking by preventing the wheels from locking up and skidding. Electronic brakeforce distribution works alongside anti-lock brakes by varying the amount of force applied to each of the wheels, giving the driver more control.

Electronic Stability Control

Rollover accidents are also incredibly dangerous for semi-trucks. When trucks follow a curved path, centrifugal force can cause the truck to flip over, potentially injuring or killing the truck driver and others nearby. Electronic stability control uses sensors on the truck to detect the vehicle’s dynamics. The sensors identify any risk of rollover and can automatically slow the truck to prevent an accident.

Electronic Logging Devices

Driver fatigue and overwork can drastically increase the risk of truck accidents. To combat this problem, the law limits drivers to eleven hours of driving per day. However, drivers often work over their limit to increase earnings. Electronic logging devices can prevent this problem by recording drivers’ hours of service and driving behavior. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that all truck drivers use electronic logging devices by December 2017 and estimates that they will prevent 1,844 crashes and 562 injuries, and save 26 lives every year.

In-Cab Video

In-cab video cameras can also prevent accidents of all kinds by monitoring driver performance. Cameras capture live footage while the truck is in motion, which can be monitored from a remote location. The cameras allow fleet directors to oversee trucks at all times. Footage from in-cab cameras can be used as evidence in the event of an accident or even prevent accidents by allowing directors to provide real-time instructions to drivers.

Collision Warning and Avoidance

Semi-trucks take significantly longer to brake than smaller vehicles, making them vulnerable to front-end crashes. Early braking systems can prevent front-end accidents by detecting and signaling possible collisions to give drivers sufficient braking time. Volvo is one of many trucking companies that has equipped its trucks with an early braking system. Volvo Trucks explains its system in this video.

When sensors on the truck detect an obstacle ahead, the windshield displays a warning light to alert the driver. If the driver doesn’t react to the warning, the display begins to flash and an alarm sounds. If there is still no reaction from the driver, the truck applies its brakes to prevent the collision. Volvo Trucks has also posted a video demonstration of this system here.

Lane Departure Warning Systems

Similar technology is used in lane departure warning systems, which interprets a vehicle’s position on the road and warns the driver when the vehicle is leaving its lane without a turn signal on. Some lane departure warning systems simply warn the driver of lane drift and rely on the driver’s correction. Other systems can automatically correct the truck’s position if the driver does not respond to the initial warning.

You can find more information about trucking technology innovations in articles from BusinessInsider.com and IndustryTap.com.

South Carolina Trucking Accident Attorneys

Technological advancement can never eliminate truck accidents entirely. If you have been involved in a crash, you may be able to receive a settlement and need quality representation to guide you through the process. Contact our truck accident attorneys online for a free case evaluation or call us at:

Avoid Being Involved in a Truck Accident: How-to Tips

avoid truck accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated an excellent article, Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses, on May 5, 2017. As the title suggests, there are actions that you can – and should – take to try to prevent crashes with large vehicles.

The first is to stay out of the “No Zones.” Large vehicles have large blind spots in the front, back and sides, and it’s crucial to not drive in these zones any longer than what is absolutely necessary. If, for example, you can’t see the driver by looking in the truck’s side mirror, it’s likely that he or she can’t see your vehicle. Either slow down or move ahead to become visible to the driver and be exceptionally careful when merging near one of these vehicles as you very well may be in a dangerous blind spot.

If you can see the driver in the side mirror and need to pass the large truck or bus, put on your turn signal and then accelerate promptly because you don’t want to spend any more time than is necessary in the blind spot zone. When you’re ready to return to the lane where the large vehicle is driving, make sure you are far enough ahead to safely return.

It’s never recommended that you cut in too close to another vehicle when changing lanes, and this is especially true with larger ones. Buses, for example, take 40 percent longer to stop; so, even if you aren’t in a blind spot, the driver may not be able to slow down quickly enough to prevent an accident.

Never pass a large vehicle from the right lane or when driving down a downgrade; the latter is when large trucks and buses pick up speed. If a large vehicle is passing you, slow down a bit to give the driver time to pass – and get out of his or her blind spot as quickly as possible.

Give the large trucks and buses extra room to turn; it isn’t unusual for a truck to need 55 feet to turn. So, they swing wide and may even start to turn from a middle lane, rather than the far-right lane that’s typical for average-sized vehicles.

The FMCSA article contains even more information about how to avoid being involved in a truck accident; find them here.

Truck Accidents Still Occur

No matter how careful drivers are, of course, truck accidents still occur. Sometimes weather conditions are the culprit. Other times, the truck driver is fatigued or is driving too fast or too carelessly.

And, unfortunately, because of the size and/or speed of the truck, many accidents result in severe and/or permanent injuries – even death.

Truck Accident Settlements

Truck accidents can place a huge burden on victims and their families. Injured parties may have ongoing medical care and experience lost earnings; families who have lost a family member to a fatal accident will experience an even greater loss. Thus, the need for truck accident settlements.

Truck Accident Lawyers

Have you been injured because of a truck crash? If so, let our attorneys navigate through the complex set of trucking regulations, relevant driving logs and more to help prove negligence and increase your ability to receive full compensation. Contact our truck accident attorneys online or call today:

Personal Injury from Truck Crashes Rising

Truck crashes that cause injury and even fatality have been climbing over recent years, after a lengthy period of declining numbers. We took a look at a 2015 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report (the 2016 data isn’t on the site yet) that focuses on accidents involving large trucks or buses – and we’re seeing significant increases, especially since 2009. Here are more specifics.

  • The number of crashes with injuries increased by 62 percent (when looking at data from 2009 to 2015)
  • The number of large trucks/buses involved in fatal crashes is up by 26 percent (when looking at data from 2009 to 2015)
  • When you simply look at the number of large trucks/buses involved in fatal crashes from 2014 to 2015, there is an increase of 8 percent

Truck Accident Victims

Injury victims of trucking accidents face many challenges, including the associated costs. These include medical expenses, often including hospitalization, vehicle damages – which can be substantial with truck crashes, with vehicles often totaled – and lost wages when someone is unable to work for a period of time. Sometimes, there is even permanent disability involved. And, if a loved one is killed in a truck crash, this is tragic for the family, and a lifetime of lost wages becomes a harsh reality.

Truck Accident Settlements

No two accidents are ever identical, but there are certain causes that are more typical than others. In some cases, a truck accident may happen because of weather conditions. Other times, the driver has been driving too long and is fatigued. Some drivers are more careless than others and some have less experience and/or training then others. Sometimes, the truck itself malfunctions, perhaps in the steering mechanism; other times, cargo is loaded incorrectly. Still other times, a blown tire is the culprit. In some instances, the truck driver was following traffic laws. Other times, he or she speeds, runs a red light or otherwise breaks a law. Some truck drivers have previously clean driving records. Others do not.

If the victim of an accident decides to pursue legal remedies against a driver, the outcome of the case and the resulting truck accident settlement varies significantly based on the factors we just listed – as well as other, sometimes less common, factors.

Truck Crash Claim Investigation

When an accident and subsequent injury occurs, it’s important that an investigation on behalf of the accident victim is done, independently of the trucking company’s investigation – and quickly. Elements of a quality investigation typically include:

  • Accident site visits
  • Review of log book entries and inspection reports
  • Review of black box recorders
  • Study of law enforcement reports

Specialists may need to be hired, including professional investigators and engineers, plus accident reconstruction experts.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck crash, don’t delay. The sooner we get started on the investigation, the better for you and the potential of a truck accident settlement. Schedule a free case evaluation online or call us at: