Some attorneys believe that every type of traffic accident is “pretty much the same.”
They’re wrong. A truck accident is not like a car crash. Truck accidents often have different causes than car accidents. Due to the size and weight of the vehicle, truck crashes are more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities.
Some common types of fatal truck accidents include:
- Jackknife accidents: Jackknife accidents occur when the cab of the truck turns so sharply that it folds back toward the trailer. Sometimes the cab can detach from the trailer.
- Rollover accidents: Rollover crashes occur when the entire truck falls on its side or lands upside down. It often crushes cars and anything else that it falls upon.
- Override accidents: Override accidents happen when a truck rides over a smaller vehicle. Tailgating is a common cause of override crashes.
- Underride accidents: Underride accidents, when a car physically goes under the back of a truck, are surprisingly common and often fatal. They commonly occur in trucks without safety guards in place to prevent these types of accidents.
- Head-on collisions: Head-on crashes happen when the front of a truck and the front of another vehicle collide while traveling in opposite directions. Head-on accidents can occur when a truck is in the wrong lane.
All of these types of truck wrecks can be caused by many different factors.
Major Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Improper Maintenance and Faulty Parts
Maintenance deficiencies can include the truck, the trailer, and any safety equipment installed on the truck. Federal regulations require that trucks be regularly inspected to prevent them from malfunctioning on the road and causing a truck accident. When trucks are not properly maintained then the trucker, the trucking company, or the maintenance company may be at fault. Similarly, if a faulty part is installed, then the manufacturer may be at fault.
Common areas of maintenance neglect are the tire and brake systems. Trucks require a lot of braking power and often have several braking systems—hydraulic brakes, air brakes, and parking brakes—and all of them incur daily wear-and-tear and need to be regularly maintained. Tire problems may include the use of defective or recalled tires on the truck, using the wrong size tires, using tires with significant wear, or allowing truckers to continue driving on tires that fail to meet the minimum Department of Transportation tread depth requirement.
Anything that distracts the driver of a car may also distract a trucker. Cell phones, eating while driving, and changing the music are just a few examples of the potential distractions. However, these distractions may be deadly when the driver of a large and heavy truck loses control and causes a crash.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
The size and weight of a large truck makes it more likely to cause significant damage in an accident; at the same time, they also make it harder for the truck to stop. When a trucker is speeding, the truck may not be able to stop soon enough time to avoid a major collision. The chances of a jackknife accident, for example, increase when a truck brakes suddenly in an abrupt attempt to decrease speed.
An aggressive trucker—one who uses his truck while angry or frustrated—can cause a catastrophic accident. While it is easy to understand that long hours and driving can lead to agitation and anger, it is also important to understand that aggressive truckers are dangerous.
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Dangerous driving conditions can include poor visibility or road conditions due to:
- Snow or ice
- Blowing sand or dust
- Congested traffic
- Sharp curves
- Poorly kept roads that are full of potholes or other hazards
Truckers must adjust their driving, and their speed, to accommodate for inclement weather and other conditions.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol
Most drivers in Kentucky are considered legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act makes it illegal for a commercial trucker to drive with a BAC of just 0.04 percent. Abuse of over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, and illegal drugs can also impact a trucker’s ability to drive safely.
Truck Driver Fatigue and Drowsy Driving
One common cause of trucker fatigue is too many hours behind the wheel without adequate rest. Drowsiness can result in a slower reaction time and can cause a trucker to:
- Drift into another lane
- Use impaired judgment
- Have vision difficulties
- Be aggressive
- Be less vigilant
- Make preventable mistakes
Any of these things can result in serious crashes, injuries, and deaths.
Overweight or Improperly Loaded Trailers
Trucks are designed to safely carry a specific amount of weight. When trucks go over their weight limits, they become a real danger to other vehicles on the road. That’s why state and federal regulations regarding truck weights are in place. Ignoring these weight restrictions can make the truck difficult or impossible to stop and difficult to maneuver. The heavier a truck gets, the more it is likely to suffer a rollover. Rollovers are also affected by improperly balanced cargo.
Similarly, improperly loaded trucks can also be dangerous. For example, flying debris can pose a threat to other vehicles and spilled hazardous materials can be disastrous.
We Help Victims of Kentucky Truck Accident Tragedies
Each year thousands of people die and tens of thousands of people are injured in serious truck wrecks in the United States. Our legal team understands the common causes of these crashes and the investigative skills and resources needed to help the victims of these serious accidents. We are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week to answer your questions and provide the guidance you need after a truck accident in Kentucky.