Five Top Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Truck accidents are much more dangerous than typical passenger car crashes, due to their incredible size and weight. A passenger vehicle weighs an average of 4,000 pounds, while an 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. It’s easy to see how trucking accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and death – mainly to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. Understanding the most common causes of trucking accidents can help you be a responsible, alert trucker and prevent them.
Despite having an increased responsibility to drive safely, truck drivers make mistakes like other drivers. Truck drivers may drive drowsy, drive drunk or under the influence of drugs, drive distractedly, or drive recklessly. However, studies show the majority of trucking accidents caused by driver error are due to the passenger vehicle driver (81%), not the trucker (22%). This calls for a need to improve trucker defensive driving techniques, such as keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, being patient with slower or reckless drivers, and using turn signals.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Commercial trucks drive thousands of miles every day. To keep up with the immense wear and tear these vehicles take, trucking companies, drivers, and maintenance crews must regularly maintain the fleet. Equipment failure, such as worn brake pads or a cracked windshield, can cause a major traffic accident. It’s a driver’s responsibility to check his/her rig at the beginning of every shift and submit a vehicle maintenance report. Failure to do so can be fatal.
Poor fleet maintenance isn’t the only thing that can cause a truck’s equipment to fail at a dangerous moment. Equipment manufacturers may be guilty of negligence during a part’s production, leading to defective or dangerous components. Parties that may be liable for defective parts in a trucking accident include the parts manufacturer, truck manufacturer, trucking company that sold the truck, and the installer/mechanic who made part repairs.
Poor weather can throw a trucker for a loop if he or she is not adequately trained and prepared to drive in certain conditions. Rain, snow, and ice can be especially tricky for truckers to drive on, due to the heavy weight and slower stopping speeds of the vehicle. Truckers need to travel at an appropriate speed for all conditions and learn proper braking techniques to avoid skidding, hydroplaning, or jackknifing.
Improper Cargo Loading
Truckers and cargo loading teams have to abide by industry-specific rules when it comes to loading the bed of a commercial truck. There are certain weight, size, length, width, and height limits to a load, as well as special methods of securing cargo for transportation. Mistakes or negligence during loading procedures can make a load fall off into the road, causing catastrophic accidents.
Emerging technologies such as telematics, sensors, and real-time monitoring and data analytics can help combat the issues that most commonly cause trucking accidents. Trucking companies can monitor driver behavior and vehicle conditions, preventing accidents before they occur.