A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study cited the top causes of large truck collisions in 967 crashes involving at least one truck. The study included 1,127 large trucks and 959 other types of motor vehicles. These crashes resulted in 251 deaths and 1,408 injuries. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of trucking related collisions.
- Weather conditions had the greatest impact on big truck safety. Bad weather was cited as a cause in nearly 50 percent of the collisions studied. For example, weather reportedly interfered with a truck’s braking distance or a driver’s steering control.
- Equipment Failure was found to be one of the most common causes of trucking collisions, at 26 percent. This category includes both design and manufacturing errors. Possibly a companion cause to this category is improper loading of some trucks. For example, a poorly distributed load can cause the truck to malfunction when moving. An imbalanced load can cause a truck to topple over. Improper loading can also lead to the contents falling off the truck, onto the roadways, and into traffic lanes.
- Drugs were also cited as a very common cause in collisions. In 25 percent of the crashes, illicit or prescription drugs contributed to the truck drivers’ diminished reaction time. Over-the-counter medications were a contributing factor in 18 percent of collisions studied.
- Speeding was involved in 23 percent of collisions. Speed and increased truck size are a deadly combination. For example, an 80,000-pound truck increases its force impact exponentially as speed increases.
- Lack of familiarity with the road being traveled contributed to causing a collision in 22 percent of the crashes studied.
- Failing to properly check blind spots was listed in 14 percent of the collisions.
- Driver fatigue was cited less frequently than expected as a major cause of truck collisions. It was a contributing cause in 13 percent of the studied collisions in this report.
- Illegal operating procedures like failing to use a turn signal caused collisions nine percent of the time.
- Distracted driving was at fault in eight percent of the crashes studied. Some of the most common distractions involved navigating around roadwork or collisions. Drivers who underestimated how much evasive action was needed contributed to seven percent of the collisions.
- Aggressive driving by truck drivers was also a factor in seven percent of the collisions in this study. We’ve all seen drivers, from time to time, exhibiting surprisingly aggressive behavior on the road.
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