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Uncovering the Causes of Truck Accidents

— July 8, 2024

Just as weather conditions can affect the roads, issues with the roads themselves may also impact travel and contribute to the occurrence of truck accidents.

Resulting from varying causes, trucking accidents are an all-too-common occurrence on the streets and highways across the U.S. The number of tractor-trailers involved in serious wrecks continues to increase steadily. In 2021, approximately 494,000 collisions involving large trucks were reported to law enforcement. Whether a truck driver yourself, or just an everyday commuter sharing the roads with tractor-trailers, understanding the common causes of crashes involving large trucks can help keep you, your passengers, and others on the road safe. 

Numerous factors contribute to causing truck accidents, and may range from vehicle-related to driver-related. If you’re injured in a wreck, a personal injury attorney who handles truck crashes can help you identify the cause of your accident, and hold the at-fault parties financially responsible for your resulting losses.

Vehicle-Related Causes

Truck operators and trucking companies are often methodical about the preparation and maintenance of their vehicles. However, sometimes large truck-involved crashes are the result of vehicle-related factors. 

Improper Loading

If loads are not stored properly inside or on trailers, it can result in dangerous situations for truckers and others on the road. Loads can shift, causing imbalance that affects control of the vehicle and may increase the risk of jackknife or roll-over accidents. If loads aren’t secured properly, cargo can come loose during transit. Consequently, it may cause the trailer to shift unexpectedly, or could fall into the road, creating hazards for other cars and trucks.

Overloading trucks can put undue stress on the vehicle. Such stress may result in mechanical failures that increase the chance of a crash. When truck accidents result from load-related causes, those who secured the cargo, the driver of the truck, the trucking company, or others may be held liable for any resulting damages.

Inadequate Maintenance

Due to their size, weight, and other factors, regular and thorough maintenance of tractor-trailers is vital to making sure they are safe to operate. Maintenance failures can result in mechanical malfunctions that heighten the risk of accidents. For example, leaks in the brake line, problems with the air brake system, or worn-out brake pads may affect the truck’s ability to stop, which can result in rear-end collisions and other serious wrecks.

Driver-Related Causes

In addition to vehicle-related causes, many factors that commonly contribute to truck accidents are the result of driver negligence or recklessness. Such wrecks often occur due to the actions, or inaction, of truck drivers and other motorists.


Speeding involves traveling at speeds in excess of the posted limit, or what is safe given the vehicle, weather, traffic, and other conditions. Traveling at excess speed is dangerous in any vehicle, but is particularly hazardous for large commercial trucks. Because of their size and weight, these vehicles require more distance and time to slow and stop than other cars and trucks. As such, speeding truckers may not be able to safely stop their vehicles in time to avoid serious crashes.

Driving Under the Influence

Truck drivers face even stricter penalties than other motorists if they get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, that does not always stop some from making this dangerous choice. Due to effects, such as slowed reaction times, decreased coordination and muscle control, and impaired decision-making, alcohol and drug use may increase the risk of drivers causing serious or fatal truck accidents.

Drowsy Driving

Tired driver; image by Johan Funke, via
Tired driver; image by Johan Funke, via

Due to long hours on the road, driving at odd hours, and other such factors inherent in the trucking industry, truck drivers have an increased risk of drowsy driving. Fatigue or tiredness can cause impairments similar to those experienced due to intoxication. As such, they pose a similar danger of contributing to causing collisions.

Other Factors in Trucking Accidents

In addition to vehicle- and driver-related causes, there are other factors that commonly contribute to trucking accidents. For example, inclement weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or ice, can affect the road conditions, and play a role in causing accidents involving tractor-trailers. 

Just as weather conditions can affect the roads, issues with the roads themselves may also impact travel and contribute to the occurrence of truck accidents. Surface defects, such as potholes or loose gravel, as well as steep grades, sharp curves, low bridge or overpass clearance, and construction zones can also play a role in causing crashes involving truck accidents.

When people are involved in trucking wrecks, they may suffer serious or fatal injuries. Therefore, if you have suffered injury or lost a loved one in such a crash, you may benefit from consulting with a truck accident lawyer to discuss whether anyone can be held liable for the cause of your collision. An attorney may help you pursue a claim to recover damages for your injury-associated losses.

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