Approximately 388,000 truck accidents occur annually across the US, representing roughly 6% of all motor vehicle crashes. About 109,000 people are injured in the process, and over 4,000 fatally. Besides, occupants of passenger vehicles suffer the most fatalities and severe injuries when involved in a truck accident.
If you or someone in your circle has suffered an injury due to a truck-related mishap, it’s advisable to contact a truck accident lawyer to help you pursue a claim and protect your legal rights. That said, you might question how truck accidents happen in the first place. Let’s discuss the potential causes of such accidents to understand the risks better.
1. Improper Loading
Improper loading is a serious issue that can lead to devastating consequences on the road. When a truck is not loaded correctly, it can affect the overall balance and stability of the vehicle, causing it to sway or flip over. This can be particularly dangerous on highways or tight corners, where the driver may not have enough time to react or correct the situation.
An unsecured load can also shift forward when the driver hits the brakes, resulting in a complete loss of control or a forceful impact. Moreover, an overloaded trailer can cause serious problems because of the sheer weight and imbalance it creates.
Similarly, improperly secured cargo can pose a hazard to other motorists since it can fall off the vehicle or cause debris to scatter across the road. Thus, trucking companies and drivers need to ensure proper loading and securement of cargo for safety.
Speeding is a leading cause of truck accidents and can happen in various scenarios. For instance, if a driver corners too fast, they risk losing control of their truck and causing a collision. Ignoring speed warnings also increases the likelihood of an accident, especially when approaching curves or intersections.
Additionally, drivers who fail to slow down in hazardous weather conditions or unfamiliar terrain put themselves and others at risk. Some of the reasons they may also speed include:
- The pressure to meet delivery timelines.
- Ignoring the fact that speed limits exist for a reason.
- An attempt to recover time lost due to breaks or delays.
- The hope of avoiding traffic or road closures.
Whatever the reason, truckers should obey speed limits and adjust their speed depending on the prevailing conditions. It is also crucial to remember that trucks have additional weight, height, and lower stability, requiring drivers to adjust their driving habits accordingly. Therefore, they should prioritize safety over speed when operating a truck to avoid devastating consequences.
3. Other Motorists
Often, truck drivers are to blame for their negligence. But, sometimes, other drivers are liable for causing a truck accident. For instance, when a passenger vehicle cuts in front of a truck and brakes suddenly, the large size and weight of the truck could make it difficult to stop or avert a collision.
Likewise, erratic driving, such as weaving in and out of traffic or tailgating, can result in an accident as a truck driver attempts to avoid the situation. Also, an uninformed driver who strays into a truck’s blind spot can also cause an accident, as the truck driver may be unaware of their presence. Thus, other motorists should practice safe driving and give trucks ample space to maneuver safely.
4. Maintenance Issues
Failure to maintain a commercial truck can easily result in everything from brake failure to tire blowouts, triggering a series of accidents. That being said, some trucking companies try to save money by skipping necessary maintenance checks or using low-quality parts. As a result, the truck can suffer numerous mechanical issues while on the road and become a potential hazard.
Also, some drivers make unsafe truck modifications, such as adding extra power by tampering with the engine or installing unauthorized lights. Such alterations can adversely affect the truck’s overall performance and endanger other motorists.
Generally, multi-point DOT inspections are a prerequisite for truckers to ensure their vehicles are in proper working condition. If a driver fails to conduct a pre-trip inspection, they may not identify critical safety concerns that can prove hazardous later. Sure, they may not get paid to do so, but by taking their chances, some truck drivers can be held accountable for the consequences of their inaction. Thus, a court may subpoena maintenance records and hold the driver liable in an accident.
Truck accidents occur for diverse reasons, some of which are preventable. And given the serious impact of such accidents, truck drivers and other motorists must take the necessary precautions to keep our roads safe. Otherwise, a scheduled trip to deliver cargo can lead to injury, property damage, and, in the worst case, loss of life. Plus, the financial consequences can be devastating for everyone involved.