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Common Causes of Serious and Fatal Tractor Trailer Collisions

Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are becoming increasingly common. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), fatal truck accidents are up nearly 50 percent from 2010; and, while commercial trucks account for just four percent of registered vehicles, they account for 10% of all fatal roadway collisions. While these accidents result from a variety of different causes, a few causes are particularly common. As our Columbus truck accident lawyers explain, these causes will entitle accident victims and their families to just compensation in many cases.

Understanding the Most-Common Causes of Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study identifies the most common causes of truck accidents. According to the FMCSA, the “critical reason” for 87 percent of all commercial truck accidents involves driver error. The remaining 13 percent of accidents are split between truck-related causes (10 percent) and environmental factors (3 percent).

The FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study breaks these “critical reasons” down into several more specific categories. It also notes a variety of “associated factors” that tend to play a role in (though not necessarily be the primary cause of) collisions involving commercial trucks. Based on the FMCSA’s data, the leading factors involved in commercial truck accidents include the following:

Driver-Related Factors

  • Alcohol impairment
  • Causing the truck to jackknife
  • External distractions (rubbernecking)
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling job-related pressure
  • Following too closely
  • Inadequate surveillance of the road (distracted driving)
  • Illegal driving maneuvers
  • Illness
  • Inattention behind the wheel
  • Over-the-counter or illegal drug use
  • Traveling too fast for conditions
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway

Truck-Related Factors

  • Brake problems
  • Shifting cargo
  • Tire problems

Environmental Factors

  • Problems with the road
  • Traffic signal faults
  • Weather conditions

Overall, the FMCSA reports that brake problems are the single most common factor involved in commercial truck accidents—with 29 percent of all accidents involving a brake failure to some degree. Traveling too fast for conditions is the second most common factor (23 percent of all accidents), followed by unfamiliarity with the roadway (22 percent of all accidents), problems with the road (20 percent of all accidents), and over-the-counter drug use (17 percent of all accidents).

Determining Who (or What Company) is Liable for a Truck Accident

Understanding the cause of a truck accident is important because it is one of the first steps toward determining who (or what company or other entity) is liable for the crash. For example, if a truck driver causes an accident, his or her employer will most likely be liable for the victims’ injuries and losses. If an issue with the truck is to blame, the truck’s manufacturer, a maintenance or repair shop, or the trucking company could hold legal responsibility. If an issue with the road caused the crash, the government agency or contractor responsible for building or maintaining the road could be responsible.

Speak with a Columbus Truck Accident Lawyer in Confidence

If you need to know more about determining liability for a commercial truck accident in Ohio, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights. To speak with an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer in confidence, call 888-444-7440 or get in touch online today.