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Commercial Vehicle Accident Causes and Prevention

America’s roads, after years of steady declines in vehicle accident deaths, are seeing a significant rise in deadly accidents in the last six years. But accidents can be especially lethal if a large truck or bus is involved.

In 2017, there were 37,133 fatal automobile crashes on the nation’s roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. About 12.5% of them (4,657) involved at least one large truck or bus.

In addition, there were 6,419,000 non-fatal crashes, of which 7% involved a large truck or bus, This means that accidents involving a large truck or bus are almost twice as likely to result in a fatality as accidents that do not involve such vehicles.

The combination of speed and sheer mass of these large vehicles makes for a deadly brew.

Liability can be substantial

In one case, a Fulton County, GA jury awarded $54,420,000 for a tractor-trailer accident that killed a 50-year-old woman. In this case, the court found that the driver had hours of service violations and a poor driving record.

Even if you’re drivers are doing everything right, accidents still happen.

You can expect a minimum of $2 million in liability on the line whenever one of your trucks is involved in an accident with injury. Judgments or settlements are often greater if victims are young or if your company is found to be negligent.

Main causes of accidents

Top cause – The number one cause of large truck collisions with other vehicles was problems with brakes.

More than one accident in four could be attributed to faulty or poorly maintained brake systems on the truck itself, according to the Department of Transportation. In contrast, only 2% of accidents involving cars and large trucks or buses could be attributed to faulty brakes on the car.

Number 2 – The second-leading cause of trucking and bus accidents was interruption in traffic flow, which accounted for about 25% of all accidents involving a truck and a car.

In about 15% of these cases, authorities attributed the cause to excessive speed for roadway conditions. About 19% involved a lack of familiarity with the road.

There were a number of other reasons, of course (see below).

Driver-specific factors

There are a number of driver-specific cuases of accidents, including:

  • Work pressure
  • Speeding
  • Distraction and inattention
  • Fatigue
  • Drug use
  • Tailgating
  • Illegal maneuvers
  • Misjudgments of other vehicle’s speed
  • Overweight truck
  • Shifting cargo
  • Poor road conditions
  • Tire problems