The Main Causes of Truck Accidents
It is estimated that there are currently 15.5 million trucks operating in the United States and that there are 8.9 million people employed in the trucking industry – nearly 3.5 million of whom work as truck drivers. The trucking industry is a multi-billion dollar operation and while the U.S. economy relies on it for nearly 70 percent of the transportation of manufactured and retail goods, truck accidents also costs millions of dollars in terms of fatalities, injuries, and property damage.
Large Truck Accidents are More Violent and Often Fatal
Although truck accidents account for 11 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths, large trucks involved in collisions with a passenger vehicle are a factor in 23 percent of all the deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes. The weight and width of trucks are certainly fatal for any other motorist on the road, especially if it rolls over and many vehicles have gotten crushed in underride or head-on collisions.
Causes and Legal Liability
But what exactly causes these truck accidents? And in an accident involving a commercial vehicle such as a truck, who may be held liable? Here is a rundown of the main causes of accidents that lead to truck accident claims:
- Driving under the influence of drugs (26 percent) and prescription medication (18 percent)
- Excessive speeding (23 percent)
- Lack of familiarity with the road (22 percent)
- Lack of surveillance (14 percent)
- Driver fatigue/drowsiness (13 percent)
- Failure to follow traffic rules and regulations (9 percent)
- Outside distractions (8 percent)
- Failure to avoid road hazard (7 percent)
- Aggressive driver behavior (7 percent)
Fault and Negligence of the Driver
In a 2006 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report, it was estimated that 1 out of 20 truck drivers will be involved in an accident and that of the 141,000 truck crashes every year, more than half of these shall be due to the fault or negligence of the driver.
Poor maintenance of the vehicle also plays a part in all of the above-mentioned causes of truck accidents. The failure to avoid road hazard or inability to stop while driving is due to brake failure -- stopping distances for trucks are much longer than a passenger vehicles’ and this can be further aggravated by wet and slippery roads.
Legal Help with Trucking Accident Claims
In the event that you or a loved one was involved in a multi-vehicle crash with a truck, aside from holding the driver criminally liable if he was negligent, you may also recover damages against the trucking company. Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, employers may be held liable for the fault or mistake of their employee. A truck accident lawyer can certainly give you the legal advice and services you need if you wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a trucking company.