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Leading Causes of Semi-Truck Crashes

When truck drivers are at fault for crashes involving a passenger vehicle, a government study finds that the leading causes of the truck accidents are: the use of legal drugs, driving too fast, unfamiliarity with a road, inadequate attention to driving and driver fatigue.

However, not all collisions between big rigs and passenger vehicles such as cars, SUVs and pick-ups are the fault of the truck drivers. The 2006 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) notes that in two-vehicle crashes involving a big rig and passenger vehicle, the driver of the passenger vehicle is at fault 56 percent of the time.

Top Ten Collision Causes

In those remaining cases, however, horrific damage can be wrongfully done to the occupants of the vehicles, including severe injuries and death. The FMSCA study found that in those crashes caused by drivers of large trucks, the leading causes were:

  • Prescription drug use: 26 percent
  • Speeding: 23 percent
  • Unfamiliarity with the road/inexperience: 22 percent
  • Over-the-counter drug use: 18 percent
  • Inadequate surveillance of driving conditions: 14 percent
  • Fatigue: 13 percent
  • Illegal maneuvers: 9 percent
  • Inadequate evasive actions: 7 percent
  • Aggressive driving: 7 percent

Big Trucks, Big Problems

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 77 percent of the people killed in crashes involving commercial trucks were occupants of the other vehicle in the crash, while only 14 percent were occupants of the semi truck. Another eight percent were not occupants of either vehicle.

An 18-wheeler that weighs 80,000 pounds (the current legal limit for 18-wheelers) is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash than one weighing 50,000 pounds. Why? Because the heavier a truck is, the longer it takes for it to brake or take evasive action.

Braking distance is dramatically longer for a tractor-trailer than a car: at a speed of 65 mph, it takes a car about 160 feet to come to a complete stop. A fully loaded semi-truck at the same speed needs 420 feet to stop.

Liability in Accidents

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash involving a large truck, contact a Kansas City personal injury attorney who can assess the all the factors of your case, helping determine whether the driver, the company employing the driver, the insurer, or others should be held accountable for your damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer helps accident injury victims get the compensation they deserve for medical care, lost income and pain and suffering.