Factors Contributing to Semi Truck Accidents

The truck accident lawyers at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., know from decades of experience how devastating truck accidents can be and how a serious truck accident can change our clients’ lives forever. Unfortunately, the number of crashes involving large trucks has risen by nearly 100,000 between 2012 and 2015, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) 2017 Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. Why are these crashes so numerous and dangerous? Read on to learn about the factors that contribute to large truck accidents.

truck accident

Unsafe trucks and fatigued drivers

Research sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute showed that while there were improvements over the last few decades, tired truck drivers and unsafe trucks remain a persistent cause of crashes.

Federal regulations requiring truckers to use electronic logging devices went into effect in December 2017. These logs are expected to improve truck drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations, which allow drivers to be behind the wheel for up to 11 consecutive hours. Surveys, however, indicate that many drivers work longer than 11 hours in violation of the regulations. Even if drivers stay within the 11-hour limit, though, research shows the adverse effects of working long hours, such as how the risk of crashing may increase geometrically after the eighth consecutive hour of driving.

According to the IIHS, approximately one in 10 highway fatalities occur in crashes involving large trucks. Some of these accidents have nothing to do with unsafe equipment: The fact that commercial trucks can weigh up to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles make them dangerous enough. Trucks are also much higher than cars, so vehicles that ride low can slip underneath truck trailers, even with rear underride guards intended to prevent such occurrences.

Equipment violations and defective equipment are also significant factors in accidents with large commercial trucks. A 2010 study that gathered data on national samples of truck crashes involving injuries found that nearly one-third of the trucks had conditions that should have required them to be taken out of service, and more than half had at least one mechanical violation. Lighting and brake violations were the most prevalent, with poor brake conditions shown to make a truck nearly twice as likely to be the vehicle that caused the accident.

Semi truck accident statistics

The IIHS reported the following numbers for truck accident deaths that occurred in 2016.
Fatal crashes involving large trucks:

  • More than 3,900 people died in accidents involving large trucks
  • Truck occupants accounted for 17% of those deaths
  • Nearly 66% were passenger vehicle occupants
  • 16% were pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists

Fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck:

  • 97% of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicles

If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact us.

When you have had an accident that involved a commercial truck or tractor-trailer—or lost a loved one due to such an accident—time is of the essence. Because these types of accidents can be more complex than others, it’s important to promptly consult an experienced truck accident lawyer so that all of the individuals and/or companies that may be responsible can be quickly identified and evidence can be preserved.

At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., our truck accident attorneys are well-versed in commercial trucking regulations and laws. If you believe you may have a case, contact us online or call us at 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111 to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert truck accident lawyers.