18-Wheeler Crashes – Common Causes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every day approximately 9 people die and over 1,000 are injured in crashes resulting from distracted driving. Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be considered a “distraction.”

The CDC lists these three main types of distraction:

  • Visual:  taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual:  taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive:  taking your mind off driving (2)

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18-Wheelers and Distracted Driving

Over 3.5 million truck drivers employed by a variety of trucking companies, work in the U.S.  While safety is a top priority for their employers, driver correlated crashes are not uncommon.

What are some of the top reasons for 18-wheeler crashes? While distracted driving is at the top of the list, there are other possible causes for big rigs to crash.

1,  Distraction:  Drunk driving is no longer the number-one cause of fatal accidents in the US. (3) Any behavior taking your focus away from the road, qualifies as distracted driving.  Anything from texting to daydreaming to an obstruction on your windshield, can cause a distraction.

2.  Cargo is Improperly Loaded:  Semi trailers must be loaded correctly.  Improperly loading cargo can shift in transport and cause the trailer to tip over if the truck is turned too sharply or goes up a steep grade.  A jackknifing or rollover trailer is a danger to the semi and to others on the highway. Cargo can also shift and fall from an open trailer impeding other drivers.

3. DUI/DWI:   Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated includes being impaired by alcohol or drugs (recreational or prescribed) and can render a driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle in a safe manner.  In 2016 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the US where caused by alcohol-impaired driving crashes. (4)

4. Failing Equipment:  Commercial vehicles are on the road covering hundreds of miles daily.  Consistent inspections and proper maintenance are required to maintain vehicle safety.

5. Faulty Brakes :  In the U.S., the legal weight for an 18-wheeler is 80,000 lbs. (40 tons).  Even when a truck ‘s breaks are in proper working order, it is difficult for a semi to quickly come to a stop.  Properly maintained brakes help avoid potential crashes.

6. Fatigue:  The National Sleep Foundation website states that “drowsy driving is dangerous because sleep deprivation can have similar effects on your body as drinking alcohol.” (5)  Many truckers don’t work a set schedule; driving until they are tired before stopping to sleep.  Whether driving a big-rig or a mini car, if you’re tired, don’t get on the road until you are rested and alert.

7. Speeding:  Speeding down the highway in a 40 ton vehicle can be a recipe for disaster.  Truckers paid by the load rather than by the hour make money by the number of loads they can pick up and deliver.  ‘Pay-by-the-load’ pushes drivers to speed and carry more loads to make more money.

8. Weather:  Heavy rain, fog, hail, wind, ice and snow can cause adverse driving conditions.    Truck drivers should be aware of the current weather and weather conditions they may pass through down the road.  This may mean securing a safe location to pull off the road and wait for the weather to change.

If you have been involved in a wreck with an 18-wheeler, call the truck accident lawyers at Oliver Law Firm today at 479-202-5200, or please contact our office today. We serve Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale, Lowell, Bella Vista, Centerton, Decatur, Highfill, Cave Springs, Gravette, Pea Ridge, Fayetteville, Huntsville, Berryville, Eureka Springs, all of Arkansas and surrounding states.