10 Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

Strong Tie Insurance April 17, 2020 StrongtieInsurance

Whether the economy is in good shape or the nation is under a worldwide pandemic, truckers are called upon to keep things moving. There is no question that truck drivers are what keep the economy growing, even in bad times. At the same time, more trucks on the road means a higher potential for trucking accidents. Each year, commercial trucking insurance companies are dealing with more and more accidents across the nation. 

While some of these are truly accidents, others can be avoided. Regardless, taking the wheel puts drivers at risk. Here is what you need to know about some of the most common trucking accidents:

The Trends to Notice

An analysis of fatal truck accident statistics was conducted by several attorneys out of Phoenix, AZ, covering multiple years. This report revealed some staggering data about trucking accidents. Here are some takeaways:

 

  • From 2015 to 2017, there were over 11,000 fatal crashes involving commercial trucks. The death toll was 12,230 people.

 

  • Most fatal truck accidents happen between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. 1:00 pm seems to be the peak of fatal accidents during this timeframe.

 

  • More than 21 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding ticket.

 

  • One of the most common behaviors that led to fatal crashes was failing to yield the right of way.

 

  • The ten roads with the highest number of trucking accidents were I-10; I-40; I-95; US-75; I-20; I-80; I-70; I-5; I-35 and I-15

 

  • The highest number of fatal trucking collisions happened in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

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The Most Common Causes of Commercial Trucking Accidents

1. Truck Driver Failing to Yield Right of Way

A failure to yield happens when a driver doesn’t allow another motor vehicle the right of way. This covers everything from not stopping at a stop sign to going through a red light. Most states have additional rules about who has the right of way in certain situations, like during a U-turn, merge, etc.

2. Careless/Reckless Driving

While these two items are often paired together, they are actually quite different, but both do indicate that the truck is being operated irresponsibly. Careless driving covers when a driver fails to operate their vehicle with care. Reckless driving, on the other hand, is viewed as driving with a willing disregard for safety. The main difference between the two is the driver’s intent.

3. Improper Lane Usage

In general, drivers are to use the right side of the road of a two-lane road. Oncoming traffic is in the other lane. An easy way to think about improper lane usage is to consider when someone drives on the wrong side of the road. This issue can become more complicated when there are more lanes. Ultimately, operating outside of your correct lane is dangerous and can easily lead to head-on or other types of collisions.

4. Failure to Obey Traffic Signs and Signals

All drivers are tested on their understanding of traffic signs and signals in their state. Most signs and signals are relatively standard across the country. From speed limit signs to flashing traffic lights, these signals serve a specific purpose. When a driver speeds, doesn’t give way to pedestrians, or doesn’t stop/slow down at the right place, it puts everyone in danger.

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5. Improper Following

The general suggestion is to leave two car lengths of distance between you and any car that you are following. This distance needs to increase as your speed increases. The idea is to leave yourself plenty of time to brake or stop if something happens ahead. Truck drivers must also consider the extra weight they are hauling to ensure they have enough space to stop without colliding. Drivers outside of the truck must be careful not to follow too tightly as it could mean the trucker can’t see what’s behind him.

6. Over-correcting the Steering Wheel

Whether it’s a sharp turn at high speeds or slick road conditions, over-correcting the steering wheel can cause any driver to lose control of their vehicle. Truckers carrying a lot of weight have a higher chance of losing control. It’s easy to try and make a correction on a difficult or slick turn that turns into an over-correcting mistake.

7. Stopping in a Roadway

For the most part, stopping on a roadway is not only illegal, but is very dangerous. Stopping can block traffic or create other problems. There are some circumstances when stopping is not a choice, such as being pulled over by the police or when experiencing a breakdown. Even in these situations, the driver puts themselves in a dangerous position if other vehicles don’t move over or stop appropriately.

8. Erratic Driving

Erratic driving covers a multitude of driving errors: speeding, stopping for no reason, disregarding traffic signals, and more. Erratic driving not only makes it difficult for the driver to maintain control of the vehicle, but makes it impossible for other drivers on the road to stay safe. Erratic driving can be caused by everything from driving under the influence or being in too big of a hurry.  

9. Improper Lane Change

The easiest way to think of an improper lane change is to imagine a driver attempting to change lanes without an open path. Vehicles that try to go around trucks on two-lane roads may find that they can’t see around upcoming turns or buildings. In these cases, another vehicle could be coming from that direction and cause a collision. Truck drivers can sometimes be guilty of changing lanes on the highway without knowing if another vehicle is already occupying that lane.

10. Improper Turn

Improper turning can happen in various ways. One of the most common is when a driver turns at a traffic signal when they don’t have the right of way. For example, even though you can turn right on a red light in most states, you don’t have the right away and must yield to traffic already in those lanes. Another possibility is turning from the wrong lane. Since trucks are often so large, it’s not uncommon for drivers to make extra wide turns. While this makes sense, turning from the wrong lane can cause significant issues for drivers already in those lanes.

Accidents Happen, but You Can Be Prepared

While accidents will happen, you don’t have to drive through life without the proper protection. Having the right kinds of trucking insurance can ensure that you’re ready for even the worst situations. Commercial trucking insurance doesn’t just cover accidents that you cause; it can also help protect you, your truck, and your cargo from accidents caused by other drivers.

Every truck driver and trucking company is unique, so it’s critical that you get the right kind of commercial trucking insurance for your needs!

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