blog home Truck Accidents The Top 4 Causes of Fatal Truck Accidents

The Top 4 Causes of Fatal Truck Accidents

By Ramsey Prather on July 10, 2023

A truck driver yawns while driving.

A fully loaded big rig truck weighs about 20 times as much as the average passenger car. With so much mass, a truck has a devastating impact when it crashes. Most fatalities in semi-truck collisions are occupants of smaller vehicles. In fact, 83 percent of the people killed in truck accidents are motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and people traveling in regular motor vehicles.

An automobile driving at 65 miles per hour takes about 300 feet to stop, but a commercial truck requires over 600 feet to stop. That’s why truck drivers must remain alert at all times. It only takes an instant of inattention to cause a devastating accident.

To help everyone remain safe on the road, trucking companies must employ capable drivers and make sure they have the necessary training and experience to do the job right. It’s also important for trucking firms to monitor their drivers to make sure they stay sober and alert.

Unfortunately, many trucking companies fail to take the necessary precautions. Trucking firms also risk lives when they encourage their drivers to go too fast or ignore other truck safety laws.

Fatigued, Distracted, and Intoxicated Truck Drivers

Trucking companies are liable for the harm that results when they fail to adequately screen and monitor their drivers. Three of the greatest hazards you’ll encounter on the road are fatigued, intoxicated, and distracted drivers.

  • Fatigued driving. Nobody drives better when they’re tired. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has adopted strict hours of service (HOS) rules to make sure truckers have enough time to rest between shifts. Drivers are required to update their logs to make sure they aren’t violating federal safety regulations. But trucking companies get bigger profits for making faster deliveries. To make more money, many trucking firms provide incentives for quicker deliveries, encouraging drivers to ignore HOS standards.
  • DUI. Alcohol and drug use dramatically reduces a person’s ability to make good decisions, and it impairs a driver’s vision, reflexes, coordination, and reaction time. People under the influence have no business being on the road, and they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to operate a commercial truck.
  • Distracted driving is on the rise due to the growing number of people using smartphones while driving. But talking on a handheld device or texting while driving is extremely dangerous for anyone driving, especially someone operating a big rig truck. That’s why Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules prohibit drivers from sending or receiving any type of written messages while driving, including texts, email, or web pages. And Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations prohibit truckers from holding or reaching for a handheld mobile device. Only voice-activated, fully hands-free devices are permitted while driving.

Speeding Truck Drivers

There are electronic devices that trucking companies can use to prevent their drivers from speeding, and trucking firms can also reduce unsafe driving practices by placing a “How’s My Driving?” sign on all their vehicles. But the sad fact is that owners and managers frequently overlook unsafe driving practices that lead to higher profits.

Many truckers and their employers will tell you that “time is money, but this careless attitude has devastating consequences for everyone on the road.

Speeding is a major contributor to fatal truck accidents. The faster a driver is going, the less time they have to react when encountering road hazards or a stoppage in traffic. When combined with too much speed, a truck’s large size, high center of gravity, extended stopping distance, and limited maneuverability make it a deadly vehicle.

Serious Georgia truck accidents that are more likely to occur when the driver is speeding include:

  • Jackknifes
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Multiple vehicle pileups
  • Rollovers
  • T-bone collisions
  • Sideswipes
  • Blowouts
  • Undercarriage accidents
  • Runaway trailers
  • Head-on collisions

Equipment Failure

Regular repairs and inspections are crucial for maintaining a safe fleet of trucks. It’s also one of the things that trucking companies are most likely to skimp on. When trucks aren’t operating at high levels of safety and efficiency, you and your loved ones could end up paying the ultimate price.

The following truck parts and systems must be functioning correctly to reduce the number of dangerous truck crashes:

  • Brake pads and fluid
  • Safety Lights
  • Suspension
  • Trailer and cargo
  • Coupling devices
  • Tire pressure and wear
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Steering mechanisms

Unqualified and Inexperienced Drivers

Trucking is a dangerous job with long hours and poor working conditions. There’s a high level of turnover in the trucking industry, and companies are always looking for new drivers. In their haste to fill positions, many firms are guilty of negligent hiring. When companies fail to check an employee’s driving record, contact their listed references, or make sure they have the right experience, they are playing Russian Roulette with the lives of you and your family.

Did Someone You Love Lose Their Life Due to a Careless Trucker?

Butler Prather LLP has won hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients in over 30 states. We’ve been achieving justice for injured victims for over 35 years. Our Georgia legal team has won nine verdicts that exceed $100 million. We’ve also won over 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.

When we take on a case, our investigators will gather all the necessary information to hold the wrongdoer accountable, and our experienced Columbus, GA truck accident lawyers will fight to get you the best possible judgment or settlement.

Call us at (706) 322-1990 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.

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