Most of us don’t think much of it when we see large commercial trucks traveling the roads. It is a common sight, and we know these trucks play a vital role in the economy.
While commercial trucks are usually operated in a safe manner, this is not always the case. When these trucks do cause accidents, the consequences can be devastating for those involved.
According to The Barnes Firm, a truck accident lawyer in NYC, “Commercial accidents are more likely to result in catastrophic injuries. These injuries can have an impact on the victim for the rest of their life. The financial costs of these injuries can also be staggering.”
While the size and weight of the vehicle are elements that make these accidents so severe, there is also the question of the factors that lead to accidents. This post will cover some of the more common causes of commercial truck accidents.
1. Distracted Driving
The modern world offers more distractions than ever before. If you happen to be waiting for an appointment, these distractions are great. If you are driving a truck, it can be deadly. Distracted driving is a growing concern for motorists. All you need to do is take your attention away from the road for a few seconds for it to result in an accident. Whether the driver is talking on the phone, reviewing paperwork, checking the radio, or reading a text message, it takes attention away from the road. Even beyond that, tasks like trying to eat or write can be forms of distracted driving.
We might not always like the speed limit, but they are set for a reason. Whether you are driving a small commuter car or a large commercial truck, driving above the speed limit is a hazard. It increases the risk of having a car accident, and the additional speed can increase the amount of force on impact. Combine that with the mass of a loaded tractor-trailer, and you have the makings of a severe collision.
3. Poor Weather
Inclement weather is a common factor in commercial truck crashes. Roads can get wet, icy, and slippery. This can make it difficult to handle the truck safely. You may also experience visibility issues associated with poor weather. In many situations, trucks should try to wait for poor weather to end before resuming a trip. If they do need to stay on the road, they need to drive slower and with greater caution. However, drivers often face strict deadlines that incentivize trying to push through poor weather.
4. Inadequate Training
Driving a commercial truck is not like driving a car. The vehicles are bigger, longer, and much heavier. Operating a tractor-trailer is a skill that takes time to perfect. Unfortunately, some trucking companies cut corners when it comes to training. They don’t want to pay the cost, and they think minimal training will be enough. Without the proper training, it can be easy for a small mistake to lead to a disaster on the road.
5. Improper Loading
Loading a commercial truck is not like loading your trunk or a van. Trucks can carry loads of considerable sizes, but they need to be loaded properly. Trucks have weight and loading requirements. If a truck is overloaded, it can be difficult to handle on the road. It can make it harder to steer and harder to break. Along with that, overloading can increase the risk of a tire blowout. If a truck is loaded unevenly, it can increase the risk of the trailer tipping over.
6. Mechanical Failure
Most accidents are due to either operator error or the actions of other motorists. With that said, mechanical failures are possible. Commercial trucks are complex machines. A small maintenance issue can result in an accident. All commercial trucks are supposed to undergo regular inspections. It is also the responsibility of truck owners and trucking companies to make sure their trucks are properly maintained. When they fail to do this, the chances of a serious accident go up considerably.
7. Driver Fatigue
Fatigue is another common issue for drivers. In the push to meet tight deadlines, drivers might not take all the brakes they need. Research has shown that fatigue can impair a driver in a way that is comparable to alcohol intoxication. It can make it harder to focus and it can slow the driver’s reaction time. In some cases, the driver might even fall asleep for a few seconds when they are behind the wheel.
8. Aggressive Driving
This is another issue that results from the time pressures put on drivers. Commercial drivers are often pressured to make deliveries under unreasonable timeframes. To make their deadlines and avoid penalties, the drivers might operate the vehicle in ways that are unsafe. They might overtake in an unsafe manner, fail to maintain proper following distance or change lanes too quickly.
9. Driving Under the Influence
The risk of driving while intoxicated is no secret. We all know alcohol and drugs have the effect of impairing our motor skills and slowing our reactions. Even with that knowledge, some people still engage in impaired driving. There are even commercial drivers who may drive while intoxicated. However, the risk of an intoxicated tractor-trailer operator is much greater than that of most other vehicles. It is also important to note that commercial drivers are prohibited from drinking any alcohol when on duty.
10. Unsafe Actions by Other Drivers
Other motorists are often the cause of accidents. The truth is that many drivers do not give trucks the space they need or they do not obey the rules of the road. Common issues for trucks include drivers riding in their blind spots and people cutting in front of them without leaving enough of a gap. Motorists need to realize that trucks are larger and harder to handle, and they should give these vehicles the space they need to operate safely.
Accidents can’t be eliminated entirely. We need these trucks on the road, and there is only so much you can do to prevent accidents. With that said, combinations of training, technology and regulation have done a lot to reduce accident numbers.