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What are the main causes of semi-truck crashes?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Truck & Bike Accidents

Passenger vehicles have become noticeably larger in recent years. SUVs, minivans, crossovers and pickup trucks are more common now than they were just a few years ago. Despite the slowly increasing average size of passenger vehicles, they are still quite small when compared with commercial trucks.

Semi-trucks hauling loads for clients often weigh several times what passenger vehicles weigh and are substantially harder to operate because of their size. They also cause more serious crashes that can demolish smaller vehicles, put people in the hospital and cause premature death. Drivers who understand the most common causes of semi-truck crashes can more effectively reduce their personal risk of being involved in a wreck.

Choices by drivers in smaller vehicles

When looking at a national study evaluating the causes of semi-truck crashes, bigger vehicles are more likely than smaller vehicles to be to blame for collisions. However, a significant number of the wrecks occur due to decisions by those in smaller vehicles. Driving in blind spots or passing too close in front of a semi-truck could both increase the risk of a crash with a big rig.

Decisions by commercial drivers

Crash research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that there were several causes responsible for a large portion of all semi-truck wrecks. Commercial drivers making the wrong decision was the top reported issue. Researchers estimate that 38% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks result from a commercial driver maintaining an inappropriate speed or otherwise making the wrong choice given traffic conditions.

Recognition errors

Properly monitoring traffic conditions is crucial to safety while driving. Those in semi-trucks are at lower risk when crashes occur, so they may not be as assertive about monitoring their surroundings. Another 28% of the crashes caused by semi trucks are related to recognition failures.

Driver non-performance

Commercial drivers have to remain alert and ready to react in an instant when traffic conditions change. However, they could potentially experience medical issues that leave them unable to perform their job. Non-performance caused by drivers dozing off or experiencing a medical emergency at the wheel is to blame for another 12% of all reported semi-truck crashes.

Commercial vehicle issues

Problems with the commercial truck, including bad tires or other maintenance concerns, are the underlying cause of another 10% of all reported semi-truck crashes. The remaining collisions might occur due to road conditions or the performance of the commercial driver.

Understanding what causes semi-truck wrecks can help those in smaller vehicles make better safety decisions. Those affected by collisions caused by commercial vehicles may need to prepare for a complex insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit to recover their financial losses.