Accidents involving large trucks often result in devastating injuries and even fatalities. Many of those big rigs are over 70 feet long, and when fully loaded, they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They make occupants of passenger vehicles particularly vulnerable. The odds of victims of 18 wheeler accidents walking away from the wreckage aren’t very good at all. So what are the main causes of 18 wheeler accidents?
Causes Of 18 Wheeler Accidents: The Most Recent Numbers
As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 3,986 people in the United States died in large truck crashes in 2016. More than 90,000 were injured. Of the fatalities, 66 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles, and 17 percent were occupants of trucks. Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians accounted for 16 percent of those fatalities. Here are the five most common causes of 18 wheeler accidents.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), speeding is the most frequent accident factor for drivers of large trucks. Speeding also contemplates driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions. A fully loaded tractor-trailer requires 20 to 40 percent more distance to stop than a passenger vehicle. On wet roads, that can increase dramatically.
This includes talking on cell phones, texting, using infotainment centers or even eating while driving. The FMCSA reports distracted driving as the second most frequent cause of truck accidents. The Virginia Tech Traffic Institute reports that taking your eyes off of the road for just five seconds at 55 mph is equivalent to driving 100 yards with your eyes closed.
The FMCSA allows 18 wheeler drivers to be on the road for 11 hours a day. There are tight delivery deadlines. Those deadlines often force drivers to ignore the 11 hours a day rule. That results in sleep deprivation. The odds of poor judgment or falling asleep behind the wheel increase dramatically.
Some issues that cause truck crashes result from poorly maintained brakes and tires. Both truckers and their employers are required to make periodic safety inspections of their vehicles. Cutting corners on maintenance creates mechanical conditions that can result in tragedies.
Drugs and Alcohol
Driving a semi-trailer while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any combination thereof jeopardizes anybody on or near the roadway. Truck drivers might even take amphetamines to stay current on their deliveries. The blood alcohol level for commercial drivers is much lower than it is for you. They can’t legally operate a truck with a blood alcohol content of .04. For the ordinary driver, a blood alcohol content of .08 is legally drunk.
Truck insurers dispatch a team of investigators to the scene of a serious accident right away. The purpose of their investigation is to try to shift all or some of the blame over onto the actual victim. Don’t expect evidence that’s favorable to you to be preserved. You need your own investigative team on your case for that. Contact us right away for a free consultation and case review after being injured in any truck accident.