Those who are involved in semi-truck accidents experience more severe injuries in most cases than people involved in passenger car accidents, simply because a 40-ton truck can cause an enormous amount of damage to a passenger vehicle that weighs less than three tons. The impact can crush the smaller vehicle rather than simply damaging the impact area.
Because of the severity of truck accidents, the federal government has implemented hours of service rules to attempt to decrease the number of truck accidents, at least those in which the accident occurs because the driver is tired. If you or your loved one has been in an accident with a semi-truck, contact a Brockton truck accident lawyer for a consultation as soon as possible.
Statistics for Semi-Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a causation study found that brake problems before a wreck were present in 32.7 percent of truck accidents. Because of the weight of a loaded semi-truck, it takes much longer for the truck to stop compared to a passenger vehicle. When extenuating circumstances, such as wet roads or poorly maintained brakes are present, it takes a truck even longer to stop, thus making it difficult for the truck to avoid a wreck.
The FMCSA study found that the following issues were also frequently present in truck accidents:
- Lights and turn signals inoperative were present before 23.1 percent of truck accidents;
- Problems with tires were present before 14.5 percent of truck accidents;
- Issues with the steering system were present before 14 percent of truck accidents;
- Logbook violations were present before 12.3 percent of truck accidents;
- Air pressure and air hose violations were present before 9.6 percent of truck accidents;
- Suspension violations were present before 9.6 percent of truck accidents; and
- Hours of service violations were present before 2.2 percent of truck accidents.
Because these violations were found to be present before accidents, the truck drivers likely could have avoided these incidents. Many of these violations would have placed the truck out of service had inspectors found the issues before the accidents during regular inspections.
The FMCSA also identified other factors that may have played a part in semi-truck accidents:
- 3.4 percent of truck accidents happen in places where the driver is not familiar with the area.
- 2.6 percent of truck accidents happen because of fatigue. Just because the federal government implemented regulations governing hours of service, which require the drivers to take breaks and time off every after a certain number of hours on duty, doesn’t mean that the driver will get any sleep during their off-duty time. It just means that they are not in the truck during those hours.
- 2.2 percent of truck accidents happen because of driver inexperience.
- 1.8 percent happen because the driver is under the influence of illegal drugs, and 1 percent happen because the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
Additionally, where the vehicle accident is another vehicle’s fault, speed accounts for 2.6 percent of crashes and road conditions account for 1.4 percent of accidents. Vehicle failure accounts for 1 percent of crashes.
More on Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Since the hours of service regulations went into effect, driver fatigue as a cause of accidents has decreased. Truckers are generally paid by the mile, which means that the more miles a trucker drives during a particular period of time, the bigger the trucker’s paycheck. Before hours of service regulations, drivers would drive for many hours without stopping to sleep.
Truckers would also speed to log more miles in less time. However, electronic logbooks are now mandatory for many truckers. These electronic logs monitor speed in addition to hours of service and other factors. If the logbook inspection shows that a driver was speeding, they may face stiff penalties.
Truckers and trucking companies are required to inspect trucks before each trip. However, maintenance issues still go unrepaired. Tires with worn treads, brakes that are not optimal, and other maintenance issues not repaired before the truck leaves the base are often the cause of accidents. Many of these problems should legally place the truck out of service.
Distracted driving and inexperienced drivers also account for many truck accidents. State laws and regulations hold truck drivers to the same standards when it comes to distracted driving as other drivers. And federal regulations are often more strict. Additionally, many states have laws that make it illegal to use a cell phone while you are driving unless it is hands-free. However, even talking on the phone hands-free can cause a driver to become distracted. Truck drivers often use phones to keep in contact with dispatch and give their location status or learn about a new load that they need to pick up at their destination.
The only way to resolve driver inexperience is for that driver to get experience on the road. Even though drivers go through a comprehensive truck driving school to learn how to drive semi-trucks, there is nothing like real-life experience—and schools cannot cover all of the situations a truck driver may encounter on the road. Pairing an inexperienced truck driver with a veteran truck driver may help lower the incidences of accidents because of inexperienced driving.
Poor Cargo Management
If cargo is not loaded and/or strapped down properly, it can move during transit or may even fall off of or out of the truck. Heavy cargo that moves during transit makes a trailer uncontrollable and can cause a truck to jackknife. The weight of the cargo can unexpectedly cause the trailer to sway. Improper distribution of the load also causes accidents as it may put more weight on one side of the truck or the other or may even put too much weight in the front or rear of the trailer, which may cause uncontrolled trailer movements.
More Semi-Truck Stats
Although laws and regulations aim to keep truckers and other drivers safe, the number of semi-truck and large truck accidents increased from 2016 to 2017. Fatal crashes increased by 10 percent and crashes involving injuries increased by 5 percent.
If a semi-truck has caused you injury or killed a loved one in an accident, a semi-truck accident attorney can answer your questions.