There were approximately 510,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2019, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in its most recent Large Truck and Bus Crash report. Of these crashes, 29% caused injury, and 4,479, or 1% of these crashes, proved fatal. As you see the carnage from yet another truck crash play out on the news, you may wonder how common these accidents are.
Are Truck Accidents on the Rise?
When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued its 2010 Large Truck and Bus Crash report, it noted just 266,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks. That’s approximately 244,000 fewer crashes, or only a little more than half than the most recent report included. Injuries from truck accidents are also on the rise, with only 21% of these in 2010 has resulted in injuries.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can occur for several reasons. Sometimes a single factor causes a crash, while multiple factors play a part on other occasions. Here are the most common causes of truck accidents:
Driver error is the most common cause of truck accidents, accounting for nearly 90% of all truck-related crashes. Driver error involves intentionally or unintentionally making mistakes behind the wheel, such as changing lanes without checking blind spots, texting while driving, or traveling too close to the vehicle in front. Many other common accident causes, such as speeding, and driving while tired or distracted, can also fall under driver error.
Truck drivers have demanding schedules, with some working 60 hours a week. While rest breaks are mandatory, it’s not uncommon for drivers to power through when they should step away from the wheel. Tired drivers can easily lose focus and make mistakes. Driver fatigue is responsible for roughly 40% of truck accidents.
Truck drivers needn’t feel tired to get distracted. The redundancy of long shifts often leads drivers to turn their focus away from the road. Eating, drinking, changing the radio, and playing with a cell phone can divert a driver’s attention. A single distracted second could be the difference between avoiding an accident and making an impact.
Accidents are more likely and more dangerous when truck drivers travel at high speeds. When drivers go too fast, they have less time to react and avoid accidents. Speed also increases the chance of injury. A truck traveling at 24.9 miles per hour, slightly more than a school zone, has a 25% chance of injuring a struck pedestrian. If the truck travels 48.1 miles per hour, less than most speed zones, the risk of injury to the struck pedestrian climbs to 90%.
Despite the risks of speeding, truck drivers may increase their speed to reach destinations on time, especially if traffic or bad weather has caused earlier delays. This decision can be dangerous for other road users.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal, but that doesn’t stop some impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel. Various medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, may impair a driver’s decision-making ability and reaction times.
Driving with an Unsecured Load
Loads that are not secured or not secured properly can increase the risk of truck accidents. The weight of properly secured loads gets distributed evenly through a truck. When a load can move, its weight shifts, making the truck more difficult to control, unsecured loads can also fly off trucks into the path of oncoming vehicles.
Low-Filled Liquid Loads
Low-filled liquid loads can impact a truck’s weight distribution in the same way unsecured loads do. Trucks transporting gas or oil should hold a set amount of liquid. When trucks carry less than this amount, the liquid can move about and impact the way the vehicle handles. If liquid moves suddenly, as it can around corners or when the truck stops, the driver is more likely to lose control and have an accident.
Companies and owners should regularly maintain and inspect their trucks to ensure they stay roadworthy. If trucking companies cut corners, accidents can happen. Brake failure causes roughly 29% of truck accidents. Bald tires, broken lights, and low fluid levels can also increase the risk of something going wrong on the road.
Thorough training is vital for helping truck drivers confidently and safely operate their vehicles. Drivers who don’t receive enough activity are more likely to make mistakes and have accidents. Poor retention of training materials can also increase the chance of mishaps on the road.
How Much Training do You Need to Drive a Truck?
The amount of training truck drivers need depends on their location. Individual states issue commercial driver’s licenses, not the federal government, so requirements vary. In most states, you’ll need formal training from a recognized driving school. In some states, you can get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) by meeting eligibility requirements and passing state tests.
The length of truck driver training programs depends on the course and license class. Training for a CDL-A usually takes between four and six months. This license lets you drive vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, with the towed vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds. A CDL-B allows drivers to operate heavier vehicles. Drivers obtaining this license usually need less training, with most programs lasting two to four months. You can complete the training program for a CDL-C, which lets you drive trucks weighing less than 26,001 pounds in around a month.
If you or someone you love has been in a truck accident in the Las Vegas area, contact the local legal team at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers. Our experienced truck accident attorneys take the time to hear your story and investigate the case thoroughly so you can receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Simply complete our online contact form or call us any time of the day or night at 702-708-6462 to arrange an appointment to discuss your case.