When a large truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the outcome is often devastating due to the disproportionate size of a passenger vehicle to a tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler. Big rigs are often 20 times the size and weight of most other vehicles on the road. Commonplace and relatively minor driving errors, such as failing to signal before passing, can result in catastrophic outcomes when an 18-wheeler is involved, especially at high speeds.
Each year, almost 5,000 American deaths are due to 18-wheeler accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Truck driver error is to blame in the majority of trucking accidents, with the primary source being impaired truck drivers (whether by alcohol, sleep deprivation, or use of prescription medication). The other leading causes of trucking accidents after driver error include truck equipment failure, weather conditions, and improper loading.
Top Causes of Texas Trucking Accidents:
1. Driver Error
Drivers of large trucks are ten times more likely to be the cause of trucking accidents than other factors, like weather, road conditions, and vehicle performance, according to a recent study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The most common sources of driver error are driver fatigue, inattention, distractions, and/or substance abuse. Any one of these presents excessive risks that can cause a driver to react inadequately to the dangers on our roadways, causing a truck crash. Federal regulations, called the “hours of service rules,” mandate how many hours truck drivers can work within a given time, to ensure they are well rested, can avoid unnecessary risks, and are able to timely react to the dangers on our roadways. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore these regulations, putting others on the roadways at risk.
2. Truck Equipment Failure
Equipment failure is the second leading cause of trucking accidents in the U.S. The FMSCA requires every truck driver and trucking company to perform not only a pre-trip inspection but also regular inspections and maintenance of their trucks throughout the year. These inspections should prevent tire blowouts, brake failures, and other equipment malfunctions and mechanical failures; however, the FMSCA requirements are all too often ignored, leading to otherwise preventable truck accidents.
3. Weather conditions
Weather conditions are a major contributing factor in tractor-trailer and 18-wheeler accidents. These 80,000-pound assemblies cannot be stopped quickly, and braking distance is increased even further by bad weather. If truck drivers do not account for weather and road conditions, the outcome can be deadly.
4. Improper loading
If a large truck is improperly loaded, the load can shift and even fall off. This most commonly happens when the weight is either not balanced, causing the truck to topple over, or the load has been improperly secured, causing it to fall off the truck.