When a conventional motor vehicle and commercial truck collide, the consequences can be catastrophic. The sheer size and power of the trucks on our nation’s roads make them inherently dangerous to car drivers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. According to reports from the Kentucky State Police, there were more than 9,100 collisions involving trucks in 2015. Of those, 1,396 involved injuries and 100 people were killed.
Although there is a common saying that “accidents happen,” it is usually the case that something occurred to cause an accident, which may not be your fault. While each trucking accident is unique, we have the benefit of statistics that show us some disturbing patterns. Several years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a “Large Truck Crash Causation Study.” Here are the top ten causes of truck accidents in the U.S. from that study.
1. Vehicle Mechanical Issues
The number one cause of truck accidents in this country is mechanical issues. Whether a trucker is part of a larger company or is operating as a solo business, their primary purpose is to make money and grow their profit margins. Often, they attempt to do this at the expense of safety and proper maintenance on their trucks. 29% of truck crashes were due to brake problems and 6% due to tire issues. This is pure negligence on the part of these companies.
2. Excessive Speed
Excessive speed by trucks on the road to meet deadlines is the second leading cause of dangerous truck accidents. As if a truck hitting a car at an intersection isn’t dangerous enough, imagine the destruction caused by one of these vehicles speeding down our state’s highway system or through your hometown.
3. Unfamiliar Conditions
Too often, truck drivers are from out of the area and aren’t familiar with local traffic conditions. Your city might have a dangerous intersection or some road work underway, and an unfamiliar truck driver will have a greater chance of causing a crash if they aren’t using the proper level of care.
4. Roadway Issues
Whether your area’s roads are under repair with lane closures or just need some work, roadway issues are another leading cause of truck accidents. A truck driver that is only paying attention to the posted speed limit and not taking into consideration road conditions could be liable for an accident.
5. Drug Use
According to FMCSA standards, truck drivers are subject to “hours of service” rules. For example, a driver may be on the road for up to 11 hours only after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty. Many truck drivers feel pressured to push the limit with their service hours and use various over-the-counter or illegal drugs to help them stay awake. Drug use is responsible for as many as 20% of truck accidents.
6. Inadequate Surveillance
Truck drivers are supposed to carefully check all blind spots before turning and even inspect the rear of their vehicle before backing out of a space. A truck driver that forgets or chooses to ignore their training could cause a serious accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian.
7. Driver Fatigue
Despite the hours of service rules in place, many truck drivers operate in a perpetual state of fatigue. Driving for long periods while tired is not only difficult, but it’s also dangerous. If a driver is on the road when they should be sleeping or taking time off, they could be found negligent for accidents and injuries.
8. Illegal Road Maneuvers
When a driver is in a hurry, frustrated, or doesn’t know an area, they may be more tempted to make illegal turns or break other traffic laws. In some cases, these choices can result in serious truck crashes with injuries and even death.
9. Inattention and Driver Distraction
When this study was first released, distracted driving wasn’t nearly the problem that it is today. The instances of truck driving accidents due to inattention and distracted driving has probably gone up significantly. Any attention placed other than on the road is considered negligent.
10. Aggressive Driving
No matter what the cause, some truck drivers simply follow too close, don’t consent to the rules of the road, and become agitated when they feel that others are impeding their progress. Many truck drivers are under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines, and aggressive driving is the result. Unfortunately, some tragic accidents can occur from this behavior.
Truck Accidents in Kentucky
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident in Kentucky, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. While Kentucky’s no-fault system will provide you with some benefits, this usually isn’t sufficient. Unfortunately, too many trucking companies will quickly act to get rid of any evidence of liability, so it’s important that you take steps to protect your rights and your ability to recover as soon as possible. Contact our Louisville truck accident attorneys at (502) 384-7400 or toll-free at (855) 598-7425 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.