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5 Common Causes of Truck Accidents

causes of truck accidentsDuring the past few years, traffic fatalities have been on the rise. The first half of 2016 saw an estimated increase in traffic-related deaths of 10.4 percent compared to the first half of 2015. A significant portion of these deaths are attributable to accidents involving large commercial trucks. Here at Ellis Law in Los Angeles, California, these statistics are deeply troubling to us, as we routinely work with families who have been affected by deadly truck accidents. The sheer size and weight of a big rig translates to a high fatality rate. Even when victims survive, they often face life-altering injuries, including permanent disabilities. Many of these truck accidents are caused by preventable factors, such as driver fatigue and substance abuse.

1. Driver fatigue

Driving while drowsy is one of the most common causes of truck accidents in California and across the country. Commercial drivers are subject to “hours of service” regulations, which limit how many hours they can spend driving before they must take rest breaks. Unfortunately, some commercial drivers ignore these regulations in an attempt to meet strict deadlines for getting their cargo to its destination. The result is highways filled with sleepy truck drivers behind the wheel of dangerous vehicles. Some experts have suggested that a fatigued driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver.

2. Substance abuse

Commercial truck drivers owe a duty to uphold the safety of everyone else on the roadways, but some breach that duty of care by engaging in substance abuse. It’s not unheard of for truck drivers to drive while drunk or while impaired by illicit drugs. Sometimes, even drugs that are legally prescribed can impair a truck driver’s reaction time, judgment, and distance perception.

3. Unsafe driving habits

A third top cause of truck accidents is engaging in unsafe driving habits, namely speeding. Truck drivers who are rushing to meet deadlines may drive over the legal speed limit or they may drive too fast for the road conditions. They might also follow other vehicles too closely and make unsafe lane changes. Changing lanes is of particular concern for big rigs. Truck drivers must be aware of other vehicles in their proximity at all times, since big rigs have much larger blind zones compared to passenger vehicles.

4. Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a major safety concern and a leading cause of truck accidents. Professional drivers aren’t immune to the temptations of cellphones and other gadgets. Spending long, repetitive hours behind the wheel can encourage truck drivers to sneak a few peeks at their cellphones, which can prove fatal for others on the roadway.

5. Improper training and maintenance

Commercial drivers are subject to professional training and licensing regulations, and the big rigs themselves are subject to strict maintenance requirements. Unfortunately, sometimes drivers and their trucks hit the roads without meeting these requirements. Improperly trained drivers and inadequately maintained big rigs are a leading cause of truck accidents.

For more than 20 years, Ellis Law has been one of the most trusted teams of personal injury litigators serving families in the greater Los Angeles area. Our truck accident lawyers bring their considerable knowledge and experience to work on every case, along with our extensive network of top investigators and medical experts who consult on our cases. You can request a complimentary, no-obligation review of your case today by calling 1-800-INJURED. Let us know how we can help you move forward with your life.

Additional “truck accident causes” resources

  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Hours of Service, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-of-service
  2. California Office of Traffic Safety, Annual Report, http://www.ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Publications_and_Reports/hsp16/2016_Annual_Report.pdf