Vehicle Accident

Most Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents

Semi Truck Accident

A car accident of any kind is a traumatic experience. But truck accidents have a far greater likelihood of being serious or fatal since passenger vehicles simply can’t match the size and weight of a commercial semi-truck. 

If you have been involved in a truck accident, you may be able to get compensation to help your family get back on its feet. The key is understanding the causes of a truck accident and what happened in your unique case. 

With that in mind, we’re looking back at a seminal truck accident study to understand the key causes of accidents, what they mean for your case, and the next steps you and your family can take. 

Critical Events, Critical Reasons, and Associated Factors

In a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) analyzing data from 963 study cases involving 141,000 trucks FMCSA coded crash variables in three categories: critical events, critical reasons, and associated factors. 

Critical events are events or actions that put the vehicle on a course which made collision unavoidable. The categorization is assigned to the vehicle that took the action. 

Critical reasons are immediate reasons leading up to the critical event which caused it to occur and are also coded with the vehicle responsible for the failure. This was coded as driver error, vehicle failure, or environmental conditions (i.e. weather or the road). 

Associated factors are the people, vehicles, and environmental conditions involved at the time of the accident. This only judged whether the factor was present, not its involvement in causing the crash. 

Critical Events

The study found that three major critical events were assigned to trucks: 

  • Running out of the travel lane (32% of sampled cases)
  • Vehicle loss of control (29% of sampled cases)
  • Colliding with the rear end of another vehicle in the truck’s travel lane (22%)

Keep in mind that the study assigned critical events based on what was primarily responsible for the collision. It is possible that a truck could be out of control and ran out of the travel lane, but it would only be coded based on the most relevant critical event. 

Critical Reasons

Critical reasons were a bit more complex. The study found that the type of critical reason coded to an accident typically depended on the type of crash. Of the trucks involved in all crashes (single-vehicle and multi-vehicle) 55% of trucks were coded with critical reasons. Of the trucks involved in two-vehicle crashes involving a truck and a passenger vehicle, 44% were assigned the critical reason. 

However, the critical reason across the board was overwhelming: in 87% of all trucks evaluated in the study, the critical reason had to do with the driver. 38% of those driver-related critical reasons were specifically due to the driver’s decision, while another 28% had to do with driver recognition. 

Associated Factors

The study coded hundreds of associated factors for large truck crashes. The top 10 were: 

  • Brake problems
  • Traffic flow interruption
  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Traveling too fast for conditions
  • Unfamiliarity with the roadway
  • Roadway problems
  • Required to stop before the crash (for example, due to a crosswalk)
  • Over-the-counter drug use
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Fatigue

You’ll notice that many of these factors have little to do with the vehicle, but rather with the driver. 

Understanding Causes of a Truck Accident

What does all of this mean for the causes of your truck accident? 

In short, it means that truck accidents are complex events. Several factors come into play that makes an accident possible, and several more factors are involved in the accident’s relative severity. Unfortunately, trucking companies and insurance companies are used to dealing with these cases, and they often put pressure on people like you who are lost and overwhelmed. 

That’s why if you’re involved in a truck accident, whatever the causes may be, it’s vital to call an attorney as soon as possible. They can help ensure that you understand the details of your case so that you can make decisions to guarantee your best possible outcome. 

We Fight for You After a Truck Accident

The nature of truck accidents means they often result in permanent or fatal injury, regardless of the exact causes of a truck accident. Worse, truck companies and insurance companies know how to bulldoze ordinary families like you who are just trying to get back on their feet. 

The experienced truck accident attorneys at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys know you shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s negligence. You deserve to have your voice heard, and you deserve the tools you need to recover after a serious accident. We’ve won millions for families like yours for the last 25 years, and we’ve done it by practicing the law with diligence, attention to detail, and compassion for our clients. 

If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, click here to schedule your free consultation today. 

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Bob Giroux

Bob Giroux's Bio

Bob has been a litigation attorney for over 24 years. He is a Super Lawyer and has received, from Martindale, Hubbell, an AV Preeminent rating, the highest rating obtainable in both proficiency and ethics. Bob Giroux is a true litigator and trial attorney that has worked both sides of the courtroom and has personally been involved in over 100 trials.