Drivers know to be cautious of large trucks. That is because a collision with a large truck could prove fatal. In 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a report examining a nationwide sample of 967 crashes. Those crashes included 1,127 large trucks and 959 other types of motor vehicles. There were 251 deaths as a result of those accidents and 1,408 injuries. The report analyzed the most common causes of those large truck crashes. So what were the results?
This was the most common accident cause, found in 26% of the crashes. The use of both prescription and illicit drugs negatively impacted the driver’s reaction time.
This was the second most common cause, found in 23% of the crashes. Large trucks are dangerous to begin with, but when a driver is speeding in an 80,000 pound vehicle the consequences can be devastating.
Unfamiliarity with Travel Route
Truck drivers are often unfamiliar with the routes they travel and when this is the case, the likelihood of an accident occurring is high. This cause was found in 22% of the crashes.
While prescription and illicit drug use is dangerous, over-the-counter medications aren’t far behind. This was the cause of accident in 18% of the crashes.
Failure to Check Blind Spots
Any driver, whether of a large truck or not, knows that it is critical to check your blind spots. Yet, even though large truck drivers receiving training on checking blind spots before switching lanes or making other maneuvers, it was still the cause in 14% of the crashes.
If you asked most people, they would likely guess that driver fatigue is the leading cause of truck crashes. However, that is not the case. Nevertheless, driver fatigue is still a serious problem and it was the cause in 13% of the accidents studied.
It should be second nature to signal before you turn. But far too many drivers fail to take such a simple measure. As a result, failing to use a turn signal was the cause in 9% of the accidents studied.
It is critical to stay focused on the road while driving. But common distractions like roadwork or accidents were the cause in 8% of the crashes studied.
Underestimating the level of Evasive Action
Drivers can underestimate the level of evasive action needed to avoid an accident. That was the cause in 7% of the accidents studied.
Road rage can have disastrous results when a driver of a compact vehicle loses control. The results can be even more destructive when the driver of a large truck loses composure. Large trucks and an aggressive driver is a recipe for disaster. This was the cause in 7% of the accidents studied.
No driver wants to be on the receiving end of a collision with a large truck. But often the collision is out of the driver’s hands because of the causes described above. Drivers of large trucks need to examine the most common causes of crashes and make a concerted effort to improve. Until that happens, countless lives will be lost. However, that doesn’t need to be the case. Changes need to occur immediately. Only then will the roads truly be safer.
A partner with Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC,, Brandon Smith has devoted his practice to pharmaceutical litigation, mass torts, products liability and serious personal injury. A frequent guest speaker at legal seminars all over the country—Brandon is focused on helping injured victims nationwide, however possible. Named a SuperLawyer in 2017, he has also been called out as one of 10 Best Attorneys For Georgia by the American Institute Of Personal Injury Attorneys.