Top 5 Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

November 16, 2021

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Despite the nervousness you may feel when passing a semi-truck on the highway, most large truck accidents are preventable. In 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an analysis brief for the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. This study examined factors that contributed to the likelihood of an accident occurring. Then it grouped them to determine the most common reasons for large truck crashes to occur.[1] Below are the five most common causes of large-truck (or semi-truck) accidents.  

Driver Inexperience

Due to a major employment shortage in the long-haul trucking industry, some trucking companies are paying for new drivers to complete trucking courses. Thankfully this comes before quickly charging them with the responsibility of expertly handling a 20,000-30,000 truck. Inexperienced drivers are typically less expensive to hire. Subsequently they are also more likely to accidentally injure someone because of their lack of experience.

Sometimes, driver inexperience may be as simple as having little familiarity with the quirks or nuances of a vehicle. Other times, driver inexperience can be triggered by changes in the weather or confusing traffic signage.

Driver inexperience may soon be the top cause of truck accidents: due to the employment shortage, Congress is considering a program that would permit 18- to 20-year-olds to drive large trucks on interstates. With even less driving experience under their belt and a not-yet-fully developed brain (particularly when it comes to decision-making!) – lack of experience driving trucks contributes to other causes of truck accidents.

Vehicle Issues

A proportion of large or semi-truck crashes are due to issues with the vehicle. For example, in the 2007 Truck Study, brake problems were a factor in 27% of crashes and tire problems were a factor in 6% of crashes.

In some instances, a trucking company may be responsible for the failure to inspect or maintain one of their vehicles. However, manufacturer errors or design defects can also result in vehicle issues that contribute to large truck accidents. And, in instances where drivers work as independent contractors, the driver themselves may be responsible for inspecting and maintaining their own vehicle.

Rear-end accidents involving large trucks are common. These are likely influenced by the significant faulty brake issue identified above. Although brake failure can be a manufacturer issue, it can also be due to condensation or overheating. Rollovers are another type of common accident involving large trucks and can occur when a tire is defective or blows out on a highway. With so much literally riding on these tires, it is important that they are regularly checked, rotated, and changed.

Distracted Drivers

Long road trips with friends can be fun – but those often involve frequent stops, interesting scenery, and opportunities to chat and be social. Long-haul truck driving, by comparison, requires driving many hours. These hours are over long distances without much mental stimulation. As expected, drivers become bored and can give in to the urge of distractions. Simply reading or replying to text messages, changing the car radio, or simply daydreaming.  

Even a driver taking their eyes off the road for a fraction of the sentence can be the difference between a safe, uneventful drive, and a major truck accident.


The long-haul trucking industry is experiencing a serious employment shortage – largely in part because the turnover rate for long-haul truckers is over 90%. Not only are long-haul truck drivers working 60-70 hours per week (or more!). They are typically not paid for the time to load or unload their trucks. Rest stops are far and few between, are unable to eat healthy while on the road, and are sitting for extended periods of time. Between being overworked, underpaid, and terrible working conditions, it is no surprise that fatigue plays a large role in truck accidents.

Although there is some regulation in the industry, many drivers are pressured to push the absolute limits that those regulations would permit to meet strict deadlines. Unfortunately, these regulations have not been updated in many years. In turn, truck companies continue to demand deadline that aren’t realistic. Truck drivers continue to be pressured to sacrifice their health – sometimes to the point of falling asleep at the wheel.

Poor Judgement

The most common cause of large truck accidents is due to poor decision-making by the truck driver. More specifically, studies show that speeding of any kind contributed the most to fatal car accidents.

Some of the poor judgement can be due to some of the causes listed above: fatigue and lack of experience can certainly impact decision-making skills. Driving without full attention can, and in many circumstances, is also considered poor judgement. Some car issues also intersect with poor judgement, such as when a driver fails to get the brakes regularly checked or drives too long on worn tire treads. Although a defect with the vehicle may have played a large role in a large truck accident. It was the driver’s choice to continue driving despite having an unsafe vehicle.

However, poor judgement can also be the only cause of a large truck crash. For example, if the weather is poor and the driver panics and attempts to overcompensate. This can be considered poor judgement. Some poor judgement decisions can be adjusted by proper training and routine re-testing to ensure that truck drivers are given the best possible foundation from which to make good decisions while driving. Contact an Attorney Today

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today

It only takes a moment for a truck driver to change your life forever. If you have been involved in a truck accident, you should speak to an attorney. They can help you determine whether you are entitled to compensation and help develop your case. The attorneys at B|B Law Group have expertise in automobile accidents and personal injury and will answer your questions. Contact the B|B Law Group to schedule a consultation today!

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