Trucks are considered masters of the highway, but crashes involving these vehicles may be catastrophic and involve serious injuries or death. This risk multiplies with California’s extensive highway network. After studying truck accidents, government researchers have disclosed the three major causes of these accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied a sampling of fatal and injury accidents involving 141,000 trucks and 120,000 fatal and serious injuries in the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS). In two-vehicle accidents, according to the LTCCS findings, truck driving error was the critical reason for 44 percent of the accidents. Even though this is less than half of the causes, these errors document accidents where truck drivers should have been driving safer.
Brake problems were the most frequently cited cause. These were involved in 29 percent of the LTCCS accidents. Trucks with brake problems were 170 percent more likely to be designated as the critical reason for accidents compared to trucks equipped with brakes that were correctly adjusted.
Speeding was the second major cause. Traveling too fast for roadway, weather or traffic conditions played a role in 23 percent of these accidents. Trucks going too fast for conditions, while not the most cited reason for accidents, were 670 percent more likely to be cited as the critical reason for the accident than trucks that were not speeding.
In addition to complying with legal speed limits, the FMCSA recommends that truck drivers reduce speed by a third on wet roads by at least half on snow-packed roads. Exceeding these suggested limits is reckless. Speeding combined with defective brakes can be even more risky.
Bad planning is the final major problem. Failure to know distances, routes, and turns played a role in 22 percent of LTCCS truck accidents. Inadequate preparation multiplied the risk of an accident by 100 percent.
Victims of truck accidents may need extensive treatment for their injuries and may be entitled to other compensation for their losses. An attorney can help obtain evidence and pursue this legal right.