Common Causes of Truck Accidents

When commercial trucks collide with passenger vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists, consequences are often catastrophic and even fatal. There are approximately 3.6 million large trucks in the U.S., most of them tractor-trailers. The sheer size of these rigs means any crash involving them is probably a serious one. Even for people who survive, the damage is not just physical, but emotional and financial.

Truck accident attorneys in Atlanta recognize that the first step to securing compensation is determining the cause of the crash. In some instances, there may be more than one contributing cause.

Attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert has been representing victims of truck accidents in Georgia for more than 20 years. The compensation he has secured for victims of these devastating crashes has allowed them an opportunity to secure their financial futures and hold accountable negligent truck drivers and trucking companies. Because our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis – meaning you don’t pay unless we win – you can be assured that when we take on your case, we are confident in its chances of success.

Large trucks (i.e., tankers, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers and semis) are all enormous in comparison to the passenger vehicles with which they share the road, with most having a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds. Even seemingly slight driver errors or equipment errors can prove disastrous.

Trucking Accident Statistics

Over the course of the last two decades, the overall number of truck accident cases has climbed by 20 percent. At recent count by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we’re seeing between 4,000 and 5,000 people killed and nearly 120,000 injured in crashes involving a large truck. When we look at overall accidents (not just those that were fatal), commercial trucks were involved in about 333,000 wrecks.

Just in Georgia alone, there were 178 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in a single recent year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This comprised 4.4 percent of the national total, which means we had the fifth-highest number of commercial trucks involved in deadly crashes in the U.S. The ranking was:

  • No. 1 – Texas
  • No. 2 – California
  • No. 3 – Florida
  • No. 4 – Pennsylvania
  • No. 5 - Georgia

While some of these states are undoubtedly more populous than the rest, in many cases (Georgia’s included) the number of fatal truck accidents is disproportionate to our population.

Most people killed in trucking accidents – 80 percent – are not the people inside the truck, but occupants of other vehicles.

Why Truck Crashes Happen

Once upon a time, truck accident victims had no choice but to rely solely on witness statements and police reports to piece together how these crashes occurred. Today, we can examine devices such as cameras and “black boxes” that now often come standard on large trucks. Cameras record in-vehicle activity seconds before a “trigger” action, such as a hard braking or turn. It’s estimated some 400,000 trucks in North America now have in-cabin cameras installed.

Meanwhile, the black box devises will record information such as how fast the truck was moving, speed patterns, use of brakes and even how long the driver may have been on the road. In addition to this, we can examine federal data that help us understand broadly the common causes of truck accidents.

In a national large truck crash causation study, the FMCSA and the NHTSA examined 120,000 crashes involving large trucks over a three-year period. The agencies noted that motor vehicle crashes in general are complex events, with certain elements occurring hours, days or even months before a crash. Those elements include everything from driver training to the condition of the highway to the vehicle manufacturing and maintenance to weather conditions. Bottom line: Most crashes have more than one cause.

Study authors identified three “critical events” – actions or events that make collisions unavoidable – when it comes to large trucks. Those were:

  • Veering out of the travel lane;
  • Loss of vehicle control (due to speeding, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, poor road conditions or other reasons);
  • Colliding with the rear of another vehicle in the same travel lane.

In 87 percent of those cases, the “critical reason” – or the action/ event that put the vehicle(s) on a course that make a crash unavoidable – was due to driver error. In 10 percent of cases, it was a vehicle error or malfunction and in 3 percent of cases, it was environmental.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys will work to determine the cause of the trucking accident that upended your life so we can help you begin to put the pieces back together.

If you have been injured in a Georgia truck accident, contact Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert at (404)-370-1000.