Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Causes of Truck Accidents in Indiana

Truck accidents are a significant concern on Indiana’s roads, involving various complex factors. These incidents not only cause extensive property damage but also lead to serious injuries or fatalities. A recent study by Simplex, a leading transportation company, found Indiana to be the ninth deadliest state for truck drivers in the U.S. This study used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to look at the share of large trucks in fatal accidents in 2020. Indiana had 11.80% of its deadly crashes involving large trucks, with 148 of 1,254 fatal accidents including these vehicles. This finding underscores the critical need for better safety practices and rules in Indiana to keep truck drivers and others on the road safe. 

Understanding the common causes of truck accidents is crucial for developing strategies to prevent them and ensuring the safety of all road users. 

Indiana truck accident scene, front of truck demolished in an accident

The Top 5 Reasons for Commercial Truck Accidents

1 – Truck Driver Error 

Driver error stands out as the most significant factor in trucking accidents, being ten times more likely to cause a crash than any other reason. This has been highlighted by a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which found that over half of the 141,000 truck accidents surveyed were caused by the following issues:

  • Decision: Situations where the driver was moving too fast for conditions, misjudged other vehicles’ speeds, or followed too closely behind other vehicles.
  • Nonperformance: Examples include the driver falling asleep, suffering from a medical condition like a heart attack or seizure, or being physically unable to perform for some other reason.
  • Performance: This covers instances where the driver panicked, overcompensated in their maneuvers, or had poor control over direction.
  • Recognition: This involves the driver being inattentive or distracted driving where the truck driver was distracted by internal or external factors or failing to adequately observe their surroundings.

2 – Driver Training

Given that driver error is the leading cause of truck accidents, enhancing driver training programs is essential. An increase in truck accidents, coupled with projections by the U.S. Department of Transportation that commercial trucks will transport 40% more freight in the next three decades, underscores the urgency. This surge in freight movement, along with a prevailing driver shortage, means trucking companies may need to hire younger, less experienced drivers, making comprehensive training programs more crucial than ever.

3 – Equipment Failure

The reliability of a truck significantly impacts a driver’s ability to operate safely. Mechanical issues can precipitate severe accidents, with research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealing that 55% of injury-involved truck accidents were linked to mechanical failures. Additionally, some trucks had critical equipment deficiencies that rendered them out of service. Key mechanical problems frequently identified include:

  • Faulty brakes
  • Underinflated or worn tires
  • Manufacturing flaws in parts
  • Missing safety devices
  • Malfunctioning lights
  • Improperly loaded cargo
  • Transmission problems
  • Lack of maintenance

Acknowledging the role of equipment failure in accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates complete pre-trip inspections by drivers and consistent maintenance checks by trucking companies throughout the year.

4 – Company Priorities

Companies often prioritize meeting tight delivery schedules, which can lead to overworked drivers, improper loading of trucks, and increased stress. OSHA highlights the significant costs associated with motor vehicle crashes, which amount to $60 billion annually due to medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. On average, a single crash can cost an employer $16,500, while accidents resulting in injuries can skyrocket to $74,000 per incident. Fatalities can push costs beyond $500,000. These figures underscore the importance of making driver safety a paramount concern within organizations, as many of these accidents are preventable with a dedicated focus on safety measures.

5 – Substance Abuse

Substance abuse among commercial truck drivers is an emerging concern, evidenced by some studies revealing that drivers have resorted to substances like alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, and cocaine to prolong their driving hours and enhance productivity. Notably, data suggests about 27.6% of drivers admitted to consuming drugs, with a significant portion relying on amphetamines. This misuse of stimulants, while aimed at increasing time on the road, severely compromises driving abilities, escalating the risk of accidents that could result in severe injuries or fatalities. It’s clear that addressing substance abuse is crucial in improving road safety for truck drivers and the wider community.

Overturned semi truck

Other Causes For Truck Accidents

Weather Conditions: Severe weather, such as rain, snow, fog, and high winds, can significantly impair driving conditions and visibility, leading to large truck crashes.

Roadway Problems: Poorly maintained roads, inadequate signage, and construction work zones present substantial hazards to truck drivers.

Traffic Flow Interruptions: Unexpected stops, traffic congestion, and highway hypnosis due to monotonous driving can result in collisions.

Inadequate Surveillance: Failure to adequately monitor vehicle conditions, driver behavior, and compliance with safety regulations can escalate risk factors.

Communication Failures: Lack of proper communication between drivers and dispatchers about road conditions, cargo details, and delivery expectations can lead to mishaps.

Other Drivers: Negligent or reckless behavior by other passenger car drivers or even truck drivers, such as speeding, tailgating, and distracted driving, can contribute to truck accidents. It’s essential for all road users to exercise caution and follow traffic laws to prevent collisions with tractor-trailers.

Two semi-truck drivers with their commercial driver's license driving on the highway at night - motion blur - going fast

What Makes Truck Accidents So Dangerous?

Experienced truck crash attorneys know that a big truck crash lawsuit is different than a case involving a passenger vehicle.  A truck accident case is not simply a “large car wreck” case.  That is why it is important to hire an attorney experienced in handling truck accident cases.

Because semi-trucks are so large, heavy, and difficult to maneuver, there are special “rules of the road” that apply to truck drivers.  Most of these rules are embodied in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations–safety rules that EVERY employee of a truck company is required to know and follow.  Truck drivers are required to undergo specialized training to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).  After obtaining their CDL, truckers undergo extensive, ongoing safety training.  Safety Directors at truck companies are supposed to monitor the truck company’s fleet and are responsible for ensuring their drivers comply with the FMCSR and operate the company’s semi-trucks safely.

 Truck accidents, particularly those involving a passenger vehicle, are known for their devastating impact due to several key factors. Firstly, the sheer size and weight disparity between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle can lead to catastrophic results. Commercial trucks, when fully loaded, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, while an average passenger car weighs around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. This means in a collision, the force exerted on the passenger vehicle is significantly greater, often leading to severe damage and higher fatality rates.

Secondly, trucks have much longer stopping distances compared to cars. Even under ideal conditions, a fully loaded truck traveling at highway speeds needs about 200 yards to come to a complete stop — roughly the length of two football fields. This discrepancy can lead to collisions if a truck driver fails to anticipate a sudden halt in traffic or if a passenger vehicle cuts too close in front of a truck.

Additionally, trucks have larger blind spots than passenger vehicles, which can obscure other vehicles for long stretches of road. When passenger vehicles enter these “no-zones,” they’re at an increased risk of being involved in a collision should the truck change lanes or turn without noticing the smaller vehicle.

Lastly, the height and ground clearance of a commercial truck can lead to underride accidents, where a passenger vehicle slides under the truck during a collision. These accidents are particularly deadly, as the top of the passenger vehicle is often sheared off or severely damaged, leading to a high potential for fatal injuries to the occupants.

Together, these factors contribute to the high risk of severe injury and death in accidents involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. It highlights the need for stringent safety measures, thorough driver training, and adherence to road safety laws to protect all road users.

Common Injuries Resulting from Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are among the most catastrophic incidents on the road, often resulting in severe and sometimes fatal injuries due to the immense size and weight of these vehicles compared to standard passenger cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides stark statistics, revealing that in a study of 159 reported truck accidents, approximately 20 percent resulted in at least one fatality, while half of all truck crashes led to death or significant injuries. The spectrum of injuries sustained in these collisions can range from moderate to severe, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Burns
  • Lacerations
  • Fractures and crush injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Internal organ damage

These grave consequences underscore the importance of implementing measures that reduce the prevalence of truck accidents. By addressing key causes such as driver error, equipment failures, and company priorities, the trucking industry can improve safety for all road users and minimize the devastating impact of these accidents.

What Should I Do After a Truck Accident in Indiana?

If you’re ever in an accident involving a commercial truck, it’s vital to seek immediate medical assistance, even for seemingly minor injuries. Once your health is taken care of, it’s wise to contact a skilled truck accident lawyer. They can help you navigate your legal options and protect your rights. Should the accident result in financial challenges, your attorney can assist in pursuing compensation. Consult with an experienced truck accident attorney from the law firm of Doehrman Buba Ring to determine your next steps and secure the compensation you deserve.

indiana truck car accident scene, truck driver ran into car

Understanding Liability in Truck Accidents in Indiana

When you’re involved in a truck accident in Indiana, it’s crucial to figure out who is at fault. At times, the truck driver might be the one to blame. However, the responsibility for the accident can also fall on several shoulders, such as the trucking company or the crew who loaded the truck. An expert truck accident lawyer is invaluable in sorting out liability and guiding you on the compensation you could claim.

Who Could Be Liable?

  • Trucking Companies: They could be at fault if the accident was due to their drivers. It’s their job to ensure their drivers are well-qualified and to abide by all relevant laws. If they cut corners, they might be liable for any resulting accidents.
  • The Truck Driver: In scenarios where the truck driver was driving under the influence, speeding, or not paying attention, they can be held responsible. Even if the driver did nothing wrong, under certain laws, the company can still be liable for the driver’s actions.
  • The Truck Manufacturer: If a defect in the truck led to an accident, like a brake failure, the manufacturer of the truck could be held accountable.
  • A Third Party: This includes cases where the accident was caused by how the cargo was loaded or tied down. If the cargo shift leads to an accident, the party responsible for loading may be liable.

Remember, identifying the liable party is the first step in understanding your legal options. Consulting with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in Indiana can make a significant difference in protecting your rights and securing the compensation you need.

Compensation for Truck Accident Victims in Indiana

If you’ve been in a truck accident in Indiana, you may be eligible for financial compensation. This compensation can cover various damages such as medical bills, lost income, damage to property, and emotional distress. In certain situations, victims may also qualify for punitive damages. It’s essential to consult with a skilled truck accident attorney who can clarify the types of compensation you might be entitled to and guide you through the process of securing the deserved compensation.

truck overturned on the highway causing a major collision, passenger vehicle collides with the truck

Contact an Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer Today

The aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming, leaving victims uncertain about their future. At Doehrman Buba Ring, we understand the complexities of truck accident cases and the profound impact they can have on your life. Our dedicated team of attorneys possesses extensive experience and a proven track record of advocating for the rights of accident victims. We are committed to delivering personalized attention and relentless representation to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, don’t face this challenging time alone. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our skilled legal team will review your case, provide you with comprehensive legal advice, and outline the next steps to secure your future. With Doehrman Buba Ring by your side, you can have confidence in our expertise and our unwavering commitment to your best interests.

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