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Causes of Truck Accidents

Causes of Truck Accidents

Most Tractor-Trailer Crashes Are Caused by Avoidable Negligence

18-wheeler wrecks can be caused by several factors. Whatever those end up being, they are usually the result of carelessness, oversights, and errors that could have been prevented if some party were more responsible.

At Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, we are skilled at investigating truck accidents and identifying when negligence is involved. Backed by more than 20 years’ experience and a winning record, our truck accident lawyers know how to help victims get justice and make liable parties pay for the harm they’ve caused. We are also dedicated to providing exceptional advocacy while tirelessly fighting for the best possible outcomes in even the toughest cases.

When you need help figuring out the causes of an 18-wheeler crash and it’s time for answers about your legal options, simply contact us.

We’re ready to help you 27/4, and we know how to win when it matters most.

Call 888-492-5532 or Email Us for a Free, Confidential Consultation.

Click on a link below to jump directly to a section and learn more about truck accident causes and how those causes can impact claims for recovery.


Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers for confidential answers and advice whenever you need information pertaining to your situation and potential claim.

What Causes Most Truck Accidents?

Motorist negligence is the single most common cause of big rig crashes (source: FMCSA). This includes:

  • Any driver behind the wheel: Commercial truckers, passenger vehicle drivers, bus drivers, and other motorists can all make errors that contribute to 18-wheeler accidents.
  • Various forms of driver negligence: Driver intoxication, inattention, and fatigue can all play a role in causing tractor-trailer wrecks. So can failures to adjust speeds in adverse conditions or failures to comply with any traffic laws.

Beyond motorist errors, other leading causes of truck accidents include vehicle equipment problems and environmental factors, as the following table shows (source: FMCSA).

Critical Factor Causing a Truck Accident

Number of Truck Accidents

% of Total Truck Accidents
(in a year)

Driver Error

68,000

87%

Vehicle Issue

8,000

10%

Environment

2,000

3%

Below is a deeper dive into each of these factors that can cause truck accidents. Keep in mind that a single 18-wheeler crash could involve all two or more of these factors.

#1 Cause of Truck Accidents: Driver Negligence

Any driver can be careless, inattentive, impaired, or just lax when it comes to complying with traffic laws. Whether driver negligence results from a lack of experience, sobriety, or responsibility on the roads, it tends to take one of four forms outlined in the table below (source: FMCSA).

Type of Driver Error
Causing a Truck Accident

Number of Truck Accidents

% of Total Truck Accidents
(in a year)

Examples

Decision Errors

30,000

38%

Speeding, tailgating & failing to adjust speeds in adverse conditions

Recognition Errors

22,000

28%

Misinterpreting or failing to see signals or surroundings due to driver fatigue or driver distraction

Non-performance Errors

9,000

12%

Failing to slow down around curves or failing to stop at red lights

Performance Errors

7,000

9%

Overcompensating after a turn or driving aggressively

Tire tread marks on the roads, damage to vehicles, and witness statements can help shed light on when driver negligence may have caused a truck accident. So can cellphone records, police reports, and deeper investigations into 18-wheeler wrecks.

A truck accident attorney at Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers can help you investigate a big rig crash to determine when driver and/or other negligence may be involved.

#2 Cause of Truck Accidents: Motor Carrier Negligence

Trucking companies do not always abide by state and federal regulations. In fact, motor carriers often knowingly violate trucking regulations in an effort to cut corners, speed up deliveries, and maximize profits. When that happens, negligent motor carriers can contribute to 18-wheeler wrecks by:

  • Putting unqualified or unsafe truckers on the roads
  • Overscheduling truckers, causing driver fatigue
  • Failing to maintain big rigs and putting dangerous vehicles on the roads
  • Creating policies that compel or incentivize truckers to violate state or federal regulations

Motor carrier records — along with vehicle and trucker records — can go a long way to uncovering trucking company negligence after a tractor-trailer wreck. So can data from electronic logging devices on trucks, dashcams, and more.

#3 Cause of Truck Accidents: Vehicle Problems

Big rigs are driven much more than passenger vehicles, spending hours on the roads, often towing heavy loads. Consequently, it’s no surprise that the equipment and systems on 18-wheelers would have a greater risk of failure.

In fact, according to authorities, trucking equipment failures happen about twice as often as passenger vehicle equipment failures. And those failures tend to affect the brakes and tires most often, both of which take a lot of wear and tear on the roads (source: FMCSA).

The following table shows the vehicle equipment problems that contribute to most 18-wheeler wrecks.

Vehicle Factor Causing a Truck Accident

Number of Truck Accidents

% of Total Truck Accidents
(in a year)

Brake Problems

41,000

29%

Tire Problems

8,000

6%

Cargo Shifting

6,000

4%

Here, it’s essential to note that 18-wheelers are at a greater risk of equipment failures when factors like the following are also involved:

  • Trucks are not properly inspected or maintained.
  • Big rigs are overloaded with cargo, or cargo is not properly secured.
  • The parts or systems on 18-wheelers are inherently defective due to design flaws.
  • Trucking equipment is not properly installed, repaired, or replaced.

This is another area where various records can be crucial. Those records may not be easy to pull together and interpret, however. And they may not be available forever.

#4 Cause of Truck Accidents: Environmental Factors

Beyond drivers, motor carriers, and vehicle equipment, road and weather conditions can also cause 18-wheeler crashes. Specifically:

  • Weather can impact road conditions and visibility: Storms, fog, and strong winds are just a few weather conditions that can make the roads riskier. In fact, while some weather can reduce traction with the roads or impair motorists’ ability to see clearly, high winds can increase the rise of rollovers. Plus, drivers may fail to adjust their speeds in adverse weather. Any of these factors can end up causing tractor-trailer crashes.
  • Poor road conditions can cause several risks: Potholes, missing traffic signs, broken traffic signals, and debris in the roads are just some examples of poor road conditions that can contribute to 18-wheeler crashes. In fact, while road issues can increase the risk of vehicle failures, like tire blowouts, they can also make it more difficult to safely maneuver big rigs in traffic. Both of those factors can result in truck accidents.

When environmental factors cause truck wrecks, various evidence can become critical, from witness statements and accident scene photos to police reports and more.

How Do Drivers Cause Truck Accidents?

Motorists can end up causing 18-wheeler accidents in several ways, with the top three causes — when looking at truck driver negligence specifically — including:

  1. Speeding
  2. Driving on unfamiliar roads
  3. Impairment from over-the-counter drugs

The table below breaks down the trucker behaviors and errors that most often cause truck wrecks (source: FMCSA). Keep in mind that other motorists can also be culpable of these errors, and that many truck accidents are caused by the negligence of passenger vehicle drivers (rather than truckers).

Type of Driver Error Causing a Truck Accident

Number of Truck Accidents

% of Total Truck Accidents
(in a year)

Traveling too fast for conditions

32,000

23%

Driving on unfamiliar roads

31,000

22%

Over-the-counter drug use

25,000

17%

Inadequate surveillance

20,000

14%

Driver fatigue

18,000

13%

Felt under work pressure from carrier

16,000

10%

Illegal maneuvers

13,000

9%

Inattention to the roads

12,000

9%

External distractions

11,000

8%

Following too closely

7,000

5%

Internal distractions

4,000

3%

Ilegal drug use

3,000

2%

Alcohol impairment

1,000

1%

What Caused My Truck Accident?

The evidence associated with your wreck will help you answer this question, and obtaining that evidence usually requires meticulous follow-up investigations. As part of this process, you’ll likely need to answer questions like (but not limited to) the following:

  • Did you hit the truck or did the truck hit you?
  • Where was the first point of impact?
  • Where were any subsequent impacts? If so, where?
  • Where did the vehicles end up after the wreck?
  • What did you do say or do after the truck accident?
  • What did other parties say or do after the crash?

With some deeper digging, evidence like (but not limited to) the following can begin to help you figure out what caused a tractor-trailer accident and who may be liable for it:

  • Pictures and videos of the accident scene
  • The police accident report
  • Debris from the scene
  • Witness statements
  • Dashcam footage
  • Data from a truck’s electronic logging device (ELD)
  • Various records, like cellphone records, motor carrier records, and truck inspection records

Depending on the evidence and accident, it may be necessary to:

  • Send out evidence preservation letters ASAP after a wreck. This can prevent potential evidence for your claim from being destroyed.
  • Hire experts to interpret and explain more complicated evidence. This can be especially helpful for truck accidents involving defective parts or violations of trucking regulations.

Why Do I Need to Know What Caused My Truck Accident?

The causes of a truck accident can uncover liability and the legal remedies available to help victims recover. The truth is that at-fault parties aren’t usually going to step forward and admit liability or be forthcoming about paying victims what they deserve. In fact, liable parties can and do point fingers at each other — and at victims too.

That’s why it’s especially crucial for victims to establish the causes of an 18-wheeler wreck for themselves and get their own assessment when it comes to liability. And the best way to do that is with the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer.

At Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, we’re experienced at identifying the causes of truck accidents and proving liability. No matter how complex a case may be, we’re effective at crafting strong claims and securing the maximum available compensation outside and inside the courtroom.

A 5-Star Truck Accident Lawyer Is Ready to Help You 24/7

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a big rig wreck, a truck accident lawyer at Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers can help you determine the causes and your legal options. We can also help you take the right steps to recover and protect your rights when it matters most.

Dedicated to providing strategic, compassionate representation, we offer the advocacy we would expect in your shoes — and we are relentless about seeking the best resolutions possible.

Discover the difference our team can make in your case and recovery by contacting us today.

Call 888-492-5532 or Email Us for a Free, Confidential Consultation. Your path to justice can start with a call or an email.

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