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The Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents - Jones Law Group

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The Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

By: Heath C. Murphy +Personal Injury

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration[1] conducted a study which attempted to quantify all causes of trucking accidents.[1] There were more than 112,000 people injured in trucking accidents in 2011 with nearly 4,000 fatalities. The FMCSA sought to analyze the causes of trucking accidents and reached some interesting conclusions.

Top Six Causes of Trucking Accidents

The FMSCA quantified the major causes for the trucking accidents which it studied and concluded that there were 6 factors that caused more than 90% of the trucking accidents. These primary factors are:

1. Illegal or Prescription Drug Use – In 26% of all trucking accidents the truck driver was found to be under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs. Many of the drugs used by truck drivers are to counteract the fatigue caused by long hours on the road, but these drugs also impair judgment and reflexes.

2. Speeding or Driving too Fast for the Conditions – In 23% of all trucking accidents speed was listed as the primary factor. Remember, semi trucks can weigh 80,000 and become much more difficult to stop quickly as their speed increases. Also, the force with which they will strike an car will rise exponentially as the speed increases.

3. Not Familiar with the Road – 22% of all semi accidents list the truck driver’s unfamiliarity with the road being travelled as a factor. Long haul truckers can travel thousands of miles, all across the country each week, so it is not surprising that the drivers would be travelling roads with which they were not familiar.

4. Over the Counter Drugs – 18% of all semi-truck accidents list over the counter drug usage as a cause of the accident. There are a variety of over the counter medications that can contribute to trucking accidents. The medications can range from No Doze to Nyquil.

5. Failure to Account for Cars in Blind Spot – 14% of all truck accidents were attributed to a failure of the driver to properly check blind spots. This is why it is so important for the drivers of cars to be aware of the truck’s blind spots and move in and out of the blind spot quickly.
6. Fatigue – 13% of all trucking accidents list driver fatigue as a primary cause. I believe that this number is understated. The top 5 causes of trucking accident can each be caused by or influenced by fatigue. Therefore, it seems likely that fatigue is a greater factor in trucking accidents than indicated in this study.

Trucking Accidents are More Likely to Cause Severe Injuries

Due to the shear size and weight of semi trucks, the stopping distance is much longer than a car. In fact, a loaded semi can weight 80,000 pounds while the average care weighs around 3,000. The interstate stopping distance of the semi is nearly twice that of the car.[2] The speed and weight of a loaded truck causes the force exerted in a crash to be many times stronger than a car accident between two passenger vehicles. The injuries can be expected to be severe and include:

1. Whiplash type injuries;
2. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries;
3. Fractured or broken bones;
4. Spinal cord damage;
5. Neck and back injuries; and
6. Lacerations and contusions which may have been caused by either the air bags or contact with the actual components of the vehicle.

Although anti-lock brakes, which have been required on all trucks built after 1997, have reduced the number of “jack-knife” crashes, it is still a significant danger on the highways. A jack-knife occurs when the brakes are applied suddenly and the trailer portion of the truck forms an acute angle with the cab. A jack-knife accident will often times end up involving multiple vehicles as the truck and trailer may actually roll over vehicles in their path. In fact, trucking accidents with injuries are far more likely to involve multiple vehicles, as compared to single car accidents which account for a significant portion of all automobile accidents with injuries.

Contact Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you. We understand traumatic brain injuries and the issues that they can cause in your daily life and our law firm will always work to make sure you are compensated fairly.

Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at The Law Offices of Bobby Jones at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707



[1] http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2011

[2] http://www.udot.utah.gov/trucksmart/stopping-distances.php

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio