Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Commercial vehicles such as eighteen-wheelers and other large freight carriers are a unique presence on roads that are occupied mostly by small passenger vehicles, and commercial vehicles present dangers that are also unique. Not only do commercial truck drivers need to be aware of the special circumstances presented by the large vehicles they are driving, but other drivers on the road also need to use caution in their presence. Especially on major highways and at higher speeds, seemingly insignificant driving errors that may occur without consequence where small vehicles are concerned can result in catastrophe when an eighteen-wheeler is involved.
Following is a discussion of some common situations that can cause or contribute to commercial truck accidents.
Unsafe Acts By Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Oftentimes a traffic accident between a passenger vehicle (i.e. a car) and a commercial truck is caused in part by an unsafe act on the part of the car driver. The factor most common in collisions involving passenger vehicles and large trucks is car drivers' ignorance of a truck's performance capabilities, including limits associated with acceleration, braking, and visibility.
Some common unsafe acts committed by car drivers in the vicinity of large trucks include:
- Driving in the "No-Zones" - the areas behind and beside a commercial truck where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility
- Changing lanes abruptly in front of a truck
- Maneuvering to the right of a truck that is making a right turn.
- Misjudging an approaching truck's speed at an intersection, and making a left turn in front of the truck.
- Merging improperly into traffic, causing a truck to maneuver or brake quickly.
- Failure to slow down or speed up when a truck begins to change lanes or merge.
- Unsafe passing, particularly passing with insufficient headway.
- Passing a truck, then being blown out of position by air turbulence or cross-wind.
- Pulling into traffic from the roadside in front of a truck without accelerating sufficiently.
- Driving between large trucks.
- Abandoning a vehicle in a travel lane, or failing to get a disabled vehicle completely off the highway and onto the shoulder.
Dangers Presented By Commercial Truck Drivers
Commercial truck drivers are skilled and patient drivers, for the most part. However, in addition to the dangers inherent in the size and weight of the trucks used in commercial transportation and shipping, a number of characteristics inherent in the business can contribute to traffic accidents. These include:
- Inadequate training as to driving technique, safety concerns, and defensive driving.
- Systems of compensation that encourage faster vehicle speeds and more hours of consecutive vehicle operation than would normally be advisable.
- Unrealistic schedules and expectations of trucking companies that encourage drivers to hurry, despite safety risks involved.