7 Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents

Big rig truck accidents can do a lot of damage and leave a lasting impact on accident victims’ lives. There are rules and regulations in place to help prevent these big rig trucks from getting into accidents, but every year there are thousands of truck accidents. Recent studies conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 87% of the time big rig truck accidents were caused by the driver. They assigned critical fault in four different ways for drivers: performance (panic, poor decision making, overcompensation), non-performance (driver fell asleep, had a heart attack, seizure, etc), recognition (driver was distracted or inattentive), and decision (driving too fast, merged too late, etc). We’ve compiled a list of the most common causes of big rig truck accidents below. Take a look, and always be careful when driving around these big trucks. 

1. Brake Problems and Other Issues With the Truck

Despite the fact that the grand majority of critical crashes are caused by truck drivers, one of the leading associated factors for big rig crashes are problems with the truck’s brakes. The aforementioned study conducted by the FMCSA found that in 29% of truck accidents brake problems were a factor in the crash. Big 18-wheeler trucks weigh a lot, and it takes a lot of pressure to bring these trucks to a safe stop. The brakes on these vehicles are put under constant strain, and if they are not properly maintained, brake problems will present themselves and likely lead to crashes and other dangerous situations. Tire problems and cargo shift are other common issues that can hamper a truck driver’s ability to operate their big rig safely and lead to crashes. In almost all cases, brake and other vehicle related problems are due to maintenance negligence either by the carrier or the driver themselves. 

2. Driving Too Fast

Truck drivers are delivering goods all across the country, and their employers put them on deadlines to get their job done. What happens when they fall behind schedule due to inclement weather, road construction, an accident, or just heavy traffic? It is human nature to try and make up time and drive faster. The number one driver related cause of truck accidents is driving too fast. Operating and controlling big rig trucks is a skill a lot of people don’t have. It is hard for even the best drivers to keep control of these big trucks when they are going too fast. There is just too much weight involved. If you notice an 18-wheeler moving too fast when you are driving, try to stay away from it because speeding is a major cause of truck accidents. 

3. Drug Use

Over the counter and illegal drug use both contribute to truck accidents. Surprisingly, more accidents are attributed to over the counter drug use than illegal drug use. Ephedrine, the active ingredient in a lot of dieting pills, is a popular over the counter drug used by truck drivers to try to stay up and alert on long drives. However, ephedrine abuse can lead to insomnia (which only makes a driver more fatigued), blurred vision, anxiety, and vomiting. Another popular OTC drug used is cold medicine, more specifically the active ingredient Dextromethorphan. A high can be achieved if enough cold medicine is taken, but this also leads to serious impairment and drowsiness which both lead to accidents. Illicit drugs like cocaine and meth are also used to help aid a driver stay up and alert while driving long hours, and both of these drugs can seriously impair a driver’s decision making and lead to serious accidents. 

4. Drowsiness and Fatigue 

It is all too common for big rig truck drivers to be drowsy and tired while they are behind the wheel. They work long hours, they spend their whole day driving, and when they do stop they usually sleep in the cab of their truck. All of these factors lead to drowsy and tired truck drivers. Most people stop driving when they get tired, but truck drivers don’t always have that same luxury if they have a deadline to meet. There are regulations limiting the amount of hours that drivers can be on the road, but that doesn’t stop carriers from issuing tight deadlines. The pressure to meet these deadlines and stay awake often leads to drug use, or fatigue related truck accidents. It is hard to make good, safe driving choices when you are tired or fatigued. 

5. Illegal Driving Maneuver

Another major cause of big rig truck accidents are illegal road maneuvers made by truck drivers. The main culprits in this category are u-turns and changing lanes when road signage prohibits it. 18-wheeler trucks are very long, and they need a lot of space to successfully execute a u-turn. The reality is most of the time there is not enough room for them to execute this maneuver, and it leads to a truck accident. 

6. Distraction

Distracted driving is a major issue for all types of vehicles and drivers so it shouldn’t be surprising that distracted driving is a major cause of truck accidents. Whether it is cell phone usage, changing a radio station, trying to eat a snack, or another form of distraction, when you take your eyes off the road you cannot adequately prepare yourself for stops and other maneuvers. It is harder to control a big rig truck than most other vehicles and these vehicles have the capacity to do a ton of damage so distracted driving can be far more consequential when one of these drivers gets distracted.

7. Alcohol 

Drunk driving is still a big problem for all drivers, but it is even worse when the operator of a big rig truck is drunk. The overall amount of truck accidents caused by drunk truck drivers is a lot less than over the counter and illicit drug users, but there are still drivers who are impaired by alcohol and driving huge 18-wheeler trucks. Even the slightest amount of impairment can lead to an accident that causes major damages and injuries. 

Baton Rouge Big Rig Truck Accident Attorneys

If you have been hurt in a big rig truck accident, get the help you need from a personal injury lawyer. You need a truck accident lawyer who is not afraid to stand up to the trucking carriers and insurance companies and fight for what is rightfully yours. Don’t settle for a settlement mill! Get a personal injury attorney who has trial experience. Murphy Law Firm is proud to help the injured victims in Baton Rouge and south Louisiana. We have over 150 years of combined litigation experience. Don’t be a victim twice! Call (225) 928-8800 for a FREE consultation today.

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