Behind the Wheel: Investigating Factors Leading to Truck Accidents

The professional trucking industry moves most goods in the United States and Canada. Truck accidents are quite common, as are fatalities resulting from them. For instance, the number of truck crashes in Missouri has increased, resulting in numerous injuries and fatalities.

According to the Aglio New Orleans website, Missouri experienced nearly 15,005 truck accidents in 2022. Of these, 2756 led to injuries, and 119 ended in fatalities. Most of these involved single tractor-trailers.

These incidents can be caused by external factors such as bad weather or other drivers. However, most collisions result from human error on behalf of the driver or mechanical problems with their vehicle. In this article, we will discuss how these factors create an unsafe environment for truck drivers and other vehicle owners alike.

Statistical Landscape of Truck Accidents

The number of truck accidents has kept increasing over the past decade. According to the National Safety Council, there were 5,700 large truck fatal crashes in 2021. This was an 18% increase from 2018 and a 49% increase over the past decade.

The shocking data here is that large trucks account for only 5% of all the registered vehicles. However, they account for 9% of the total fatal crashes. If you consider even small trucks, the numbers can go further up. This statistic highlights that truck accidents are a major cause of death and injury, property damage, environmental damage, and economic loss.

To put it another way, if you’re driving on any road, there’s a good chance you will see some trucks. This means there’s also a good chance one of those trucks can result in an accident.

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Consider the example of a recent crash in St. Louis. According to the KSDK website, two crashes involving tractor-trailers occurred in St. Louis on August 2, 2023. The first happened on Interstate 55 at Highway Z in Pevely, Missouri. The second one involved a tractor-trailer rollover crash that occurred on eastbound Interstate 255 near Lindbergh.

If you have been injured due to a collision with a truck, you can seek help from an attorney. A personal injury lawyer with experience in truck accidents can offer assistance in navigating the legal landscape. 

You can hire a truck accident attorney familiar with the local regulations. Hence, it is best to hire someone local. So, suppose you have been hit in St. Louis. In that case, you should go for a St. Louis truck accident attorney.

Human Factors in Truck Accidents

One of the most common human factors that lead to truck accidents is driver fatigue. As stated on the TorHoerman Law website, truck drivers are supposed to follow strict Hours of Service regulations. However, several drivers don’t adhere to these guidelines, resulting in fatigue. Sometimes, drivers will work through their breaks or skip them altogether because they don’t have time.

Driver distraction is another factor in truck accidents because it takes away the driver’s focus from driving and puts it on something else. Distractions like these are especially dangerous when combined with other factors such as heavy traffic or bad weather conditions. These distractions make it harder for a driver to keep up with what’s happening around him/her.

Impairment due to alcohol consumption has also been linked as one cause of truck accidents. However, there hasn’t been enough research done yet regarding how much alcohol would affect someone’s ability behind the wheel. Hence, there’s still uncertainty, but what’s certain is that driving under the influence is unsafe and an offense.

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Lack of training and driving experience can also lead to accidents. Recent investigations published in the ScienceDirect Journal revealed that 10% of lane-change cases involved large trucks, and around 5% involved reverse combinations. Additionally, 42% of the crashes occur due to trucks attempting to merge with the other traffic.

Mechanical Failures and Equipment Malfunctions

Trucking is a highly regulated industry. It has a poor safety record, and many believe this is because the regulations are not always followed or enforced. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates trucking companies and their drivers to improve road safety. They require that all trucks pass annual inspections by an authorized mechanic who checks them for things like:

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Tires, etc.

If any of these items are unsafe, they must be fixed before the truck can continue driving on public highways. However, there are some cases where, even with these measures in place, there have been accidents caused by mechanical failures or equipment malfunctions. These could have been prevented if qualified mechanics had performed proper maintenance on time.

Hence, many studies are being conducted in this field to understand how high the prevalence of mechanical failures is. According to AP News, a highway safety agency in the US is investigating complaints about sudden braking without obstacles. This anomaly has been noticed in semi-trucks. The investigation covers one-fourth of a million trucks made by Daimler from 2017 through 2022.

External Influences on Truck Accidents

Truck accidents can be influenced by various external factors beyond the control of the truck driver. Understanding these influences is crucial for improving road safety and implementing effective preventive measures. Here are some external influences on truck accidents:

  • Weather conditions: Weather-related factors like rain, snow, ice, fog, or strong winds can have a big influence on how safe it is to drive. Road surfaces that are slick and low visibility both raise the possibility of accidents.
  • Road situation: Truck drivers may encounter difficulties due to poorly maintained roads, construction zones, potholes, and uneven surfaces. Inadequate road infrastructure can cause accidents, particularly if it prompts drivers to make rash decisions.
  • Congestion in the traffic: Heavy traffic and congested roads can make accidents more likely. When driving through crowded areas, trucks may find it difficult to maintain safe following distances and to maneuver.
  • Mechanical breakdowns in vehicles: Accidents can result from mechanical issues with trucks, such as tire blowouts or malfunctioning brakes. Inspections and routine maintenance are necessary to lower the likelihood of these malfunctions.
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To sum up, when it comes to truck accidents, there are several factors that can influence the outcome. It’s important for drivers and passengers of both trucks and smaller vehicles to understand these causes. By better understanding how trucks operate and what factors contribute most heavily towards accidents, we can hopefully reduce their occurrence in our communities.

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