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Causes of Trucking Accidents: What You Need to Know

We have all heard the terrifying tales of repercussions that can come from trucking accidents, such as injury, car crashes, or even death. From mangled cars to broken bones, these accidents leave a lasting impression. But have you ever stopped to wonder what their common causes are? We don’t often think about it—we hear about the aftermath, including the collision and compensation cases, and then move on with our lives, but knowledge truly is power. It’s important that we familiarize ourselves with the leading causes of trucking accidents, because knowledge is the key to ensuring our own and others safety. In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the causes of trucking accidents, exploring their individual complexities so that you can be informed and prepared when you hit the roads.

Unskilled Truck Drivers

One of the most alarming causes of truck accidents is having unskilled truck drivers on the roads. Professional and experienced truck drivers are able to successfully navigate roadways, even in hazardous conditions, because they understand what to do in those kinds of situations. However, an unskilled driver does not possess the same knowledge or skill level. There are those who believe that unskilled drivers should be kept off the roads to promote safety, while others argue that everyone should have a chance to live their dream of becoming a truck driver. In any case, the number of accidents involving semi-trucks and the trucking company’s responsibility under the law must be taken into account.

Proponents of keeping unskilled drivers off the roads stress that novice drivers are likely to make mistakes that could lead to dangerous situations on the highways. In addition, research shows that inexperienced commercial truck drivers are up to three times more likely to be involved in an accident than skilled drivers (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). This is an issue that is especially relevant today since approximately 80% of all trucking companies are small, new companies with little experience (American Trucking Associations, Inc.).

On the other hand, those who believe in giving novice truckers a licensing opportunity argue that standardized national regulations will ensure safety. Additionally, some would say that ultimately, road safety depends on better education and stricter regulations for all types of motorists, regardless of their skill level or experience. Opponents point out that as long as any driver can demonstrate competency behind the wheel and comply with legal rules and regulations, there should be no problem with allowing them on the roads. A consultation with a truck accident lawyer can help in understanding the circumstances surrounding a specific case.

The debate between these two sides raises important questions about how best to promote road safety. While there may never be one definitive answer, it is clear that licensed truck drivers must adhere to strict federal regulations if they wish to stay safe on the roads. Nevertheless, transitioning from unskilled to skilled driving is a process and must be done responsibly by following safety measures and making sure adequate training has been given. With this in mind and in order for both sides of the debate to be addressed, it is important to not only assess possible risks associated with novice truckers but also become better informed and look into strategies regarding fatigue prevention and distraction management while driving—topics which we will explore further in the upcoming section.

Fatigue and Distraction

Although hiring only skilled truck drivers is an important factor in curbing trucking accidents, fatigue and distraction are highly contributive elements as well. Fatigue can lead to slower reactions, fewer judgment decisions, and impaired vision due to a lack of sustained alertness. In short, it can impair one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Research shows that when people are tired, it can take them longer than the standard three seconds to spot potential hazards and adjust their speed accordingly.

On the other hand, driving distractions—whether they be due to mobile phone use, alcohol, or daydreaming—likely influence truck driver behavior more than any other factor. According to recent data, 80% of all motor vehicle accidents involve some type of distraction, as do 75% of all near-crashes1. Moreover, in a study that observed commercial motor vehicles on the highway, it was found that nearly 83% of truck operators were distracted during at least one observation window in their trip 2. As a result, many state legislatures have created laws limiting the types of distractions available to truck drivers while on the road.

Given these factors, it is no surprise that measures should be taken to reduce these issues after implementing safeguards against unskilled truck drivers. However, not all accidents are caused by driver error alone, as we will see with our next contributing factor: unfavorable road conditions.

Unfavorable road conditions are yet another cause of trucking accidents.

Unfavorable Road Conditions

Unfavorable road conditions are yet another cause of trucking accidents. Unpaved, poorly designed, or poorly maintained roads can increase the risk of an accident due to poor visibility and hidden obstacles. Especially for larger trucks, roads that lack proper markings or signage can make it difficult to maneuver around sharp turns and inclines, leading to dangerous situations for drivers and those traveling alongside them. When the weather is less than ideal, these conditions can be made even more treacherous as icy, snowy, or muddy roadways are harder to navigate.

Those who advocate that road conditions are to blame for truck accidents mostly point to the responsibility of governments and local authorities to ensure roads meet safety standards. Just like businesses must adhere to industry standards and norms, there should also be a standard for safe roads for all travelers so hazardous roadway conditions don’t lead to crashes. On the other hand, critics argue that advancements in truck technology and driver experience can help maintain safer paths even when driving on poor-quality roads. However, this does not take away from the fact that some roads do need repairs or improved maintenance, especially if they are regularly used by commercial vehicles, and responsibility lies with lawmakers to make sure they are up-to-date.

Besides the condition of the road itself, there may be other obstacles, such as parked cars on busy highways or loose debris, that could cause a sudden stop or force unsafe maneuvers by a distracted driver trying to avoid them. It is important for local authorities and government agencies to monitor roads regularly in order to prevent potential hazards as much as possible.

Though temporary road closures due to inclement weather are out of our control, promoting greater awareness amongst drivers regarding the severity of unfavorable road conditions is essential in preventing major collisions. By taking caution when driving on unpaved or icy surfaces and being aware of sharp turns or bumps ahead of time, drivers can usually manage their routes safely regardless of road conditions until proper improvements are made. Moving forward, it is important for us to remain vigilant about paying attention to hazardous conditions and road hazards that we might encounter along our journeys.

Hazardous Conditions and Road Hazards

When discussing the potential causes of trucking accidents, it is important to consider not only unfavorable road conditions but hazardous conditions and road hazards. Poor weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or fog can make driving a large truck particularly difficult and dangerous. Similarly, icy roads can be very slippery for drivers and reduce traction. Other kinds of hazardous conditions and road hazards include debris in the road, potholes, narrow or winding roads, bright sunlight blinding drivers, or wildlife crossing into the path of a truck.

Experts generally agree that while all of these conditions can make driving more difficult, their impacts are often exaggerated when attributed to trucking accidents. Critics argue that with proper caution and attention to road rules, many of these hazards can be navigated without causing an accident. However, some suggest that inadequate driver preparation, paired with poor visibility due to hilly and winding roads, could result in crashes related to poor judgement caused by inexperience. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that in reality most trucking accidents are caused by human error rather than hazardous conditions and road hazards.

While not every trucking accident is directly tied to hazardous conditions or road hazards, they can still present a real risk to drivers and other people on the road. It is important for drivers to assess their route ahead of time and be aware of potential weather changes or construction areas along their journey in order to minimize any potential dangers that come with driving a large vehicle. Ultimately, understanding how hazardous conditions and road hazards may affect your driving is key to protecting yourself and remaining safe on the roads, regardless of whether you’re driving a large vehicle like a truck or something smaller like a sedan. In order to reach peak safety performance while operating trucks, though, further steps must be taken, such as properly maintaining the vehicles themselves—something we will discuss next.

Poorly Maintained Trucks

Maintaining trucks in a safe condition and ensuring that all parts of the truck are in proper working order and compatible with road regulations are essential for preventing occupational vehicle accidents. Poorly maintained trucks can have several dangerous, even deadly, outcomes. Apart from the trucking vehicles themselves, items such as brakes, lighting, horns, tires, and mirrors should be checked to make sure they are functioning safely and properly.

Unmaintained trucks are prone to wear and tear over time, especially when they are subjected to heavy loads often. Without regular inspections, monitoring wear-and-tear signs, and making necessary repairs or replacing broken parts right away, commercial truckers may find their rigs in disrepair. Tires that are worn down too much can cause the vehicle to skid and get into an accident. Brakes need maintenance frequently to ensure that they remain effective even when carrying an overload on a hillside. If a truck has poor lighting, it can blind other drivers, creating dangerous conditions on the road.

Although investing in the proper maintenance of commercial trucks is more expensive up front than simply ignoring potential problems before they arise, this cost pales in comparison to the potential losses from a serious vehicle accident caused by a poorly maintained truck due to inadequate or delayed maintenance services. It is critical for fleet operators to evaluate their truck maintenance procedures regularly and invest in any necessary improvements or replacements for their trucks before costly issues arise on the road due to improper or neglected maintenance.

In addition to avoiding serious trucking accidents, investing in regular maintenance also yields other positive benefits such as increased driver safety and reduced fuel costs. The safety of both the driver and everyone else on the road requires that all aspects of commercial trucks are properly maintained at all times, while less wear and tear means more efficient fuel consumption, thus reducing overall operational costs for fleet operators if they stay ahead of their recommended vehicle maintenance schedule.

Overall, skipping out on regular maintenance may seem like a cost-saving measure in the short term, but neglecting maintenance can lead to dangerous consequences while increasing ownership costs over time due to expensive emergency repairs or unavoidable replacement expenses associated with aging parts failing sooner than planned. For these reasons alone, it is always worth investing in proper preventive maintenance programs for fleet management operations so that dealing with hazards can be dealt with appropriately prior to damage resulting in fatal injuries or fatalities associated with road accidents. This shall help smooth the transition towards the next section about inadequate safety equipment, which is an important component for protecting the public from hazardous spills resulting from commercial trucking accidents.

Inadequate Safety Equipment

The next major cause of trucking accidents is inadequate safety equipment. Many times, truck owners and drivers cut corners when it comes to items such as brakes, signals, and headlights, as well as regularly scheduled maintenance. This can go a long way toward mitigating potential accident risks and ensuring everyone on the road is safe.

For example, semi-trucks are prone to strong braking forces, which can lead to brake wear and tear more quickly than regular cars. As such, installing only the bare minimum of brakes to save money can result in poor braking performance and potentially serious accidents if the driver miscalculates their speed or brake force. The same issue applies to defective headlights or turn signals that do not properly indicate when a vehicle is turning or stopping. Aside from damaging property or lives, these faulty parts can be expensive to repair afterwards, resulting in a false economy of cheap but dangerous maintenance.

Another safety issue lies with the trailer itself. It’s not enough to just fill it with cargo; it must also be safely secured so that any sudden braking or cornering will not shift its load and increase the risk of an accident occurring. Cargo should be evenly distributed so that weight does not accumulate on one side of the trailer and further jeopardize its stability.

Safety equipment might seem like an afterthought but is absolutely critical for preventing trucking accidents from occurring. Therefore, investing in adequate safety equipment and paying close attention to proper maintenance schedules is the best way of avoiding costly mistakes down the line while ensuring everyone stays safe on the road. Going forward, we will take a deeper look into how proper cargo management practices can help reduce many of these risks altogether.

Poor Cargo Management Practices

Cargo management is critical in avoiding trucking accidents, but unfortunately, it’s not always given the attention it deserves. Poor cargo management practices can put drivers and other drivers on the road at risk. All too often, load-securing methods are faulty or inadequate. For example, if a freight load isn’t evenly distributed across an axle, it could create an unbalanced weight distribution that can cause an accident as the truck turns sharply or goes over bumps in the road.

Poor cargo management practices can also lead to rollovers that endanger everyone involved. If a trucker has an overweight load, it makes the vehicle more difficult to maneuver and control, increasing the risk of rollover accidents; this is especially true when traveling on highways with sharp curves. In addition, not properly strapping down cargo can leave it vulnerable to shifting during transport and even sliding off the trailer completely onto the highway due to braking scenarios or quick lane changes.

Some argue that these dangers of poor cargo management practices are exaggerated and that a brand new cargo hauling military would suffice for most situations. While this might be true for some loads, such as those specifically designed for military transport, other cargo hauling trucks require more stringent safety protocols due to the size and complexity of their loads. The time required to secure them manually, including proper loading and strapping, is often worth the added safety measure provided by making sure all loose items are accounted for.

Studies conducted by transportation agencies confirm that rollover incidents related to improperly secured cargo were much higher than those due to other variables. This suggests that cargo management is essential in reducing trucking accidents caused by unsecured items sliding or shifting during transport or due to improper weight distribution across axles, creating an uneven balance.

Overall, poor cargo management practices present serious risks on our roads and highways, which should never be underestimated or taken lightly, even when modern technologies provide adequate equipment and materials for safe loading. A few simple steps—like using appropriate straps, securely loading items, and evenly distributing weight across axles—can help mitigate the danger posed by poorly managed loads, leading to a more secure road experience for truckers and all motorists sharing the roadway with them alike.

Don’t wait to seek legal help after a trucking accident. Contact us today for expert assistance

Trucking accidents can be devastating, causing serious injuries and even fatalities. If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident, time is of the essence. Don’t wait to seek legal help. Contact our experienced trucking accident attorneys today for expert assistance. 

Frischman and Rizza understand the complexities of these cases and are dedicated to helping our clients pursue justice and fair compensation. During your free consultation, we’ll listen to your story, answer your questions, and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your case. Let us guide you through the legal process and fight for your rights. 

Contact us at (412) 291-9377 to schedule your free consultation.

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