When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, a collision is rarely the result of only a single factor. Weather conditions, traffic, driver experience and the vehicle’s condition are just a few examples of the elements that can come into play when an accident occurs. However, when it comes to deadly crashes involving large commercial trucks, a few common factors continue to put other motorists on the road at risk.
The long-haul trucking industry’s high demands and truck driver errors on the road can often be a deadly combination. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the following are the most common causes of big rig accidents:
Truck driver fatigue is an incredibly prevalent issue in the commercial trucking industry. Due to long hours of service and tight deadlines, many truckers aren’t getting the sleep they require to perform optimally. According to one study, 13% of commercial vehicle drivers were considered fatigued at the time of their collision. Driving drowsy can impair coordination, concentration and reaction times – all of which are essential for safe driving.
Driving distracted is another common problem for truckers. Distracted driving encompasses any task a driver attempts to complete while driving, including texting, eating or even reading a billboard. According to one study, 71% of commercial vehicle crashes involved a distraction. Since truckers spend a significant portion of their time on the road, it can be incredibly easy for them to become inattentive due to boredom or fatigue.
Driving under the influence
Unfortunately, sometimes truckers will turn to illegal drug use to combat their fatigue and stay awake. In 2017, over 5% of the truck drivers tested for drugs in their system after a fatal accident tested positively. Not surprisingly, more than half of them had stimulants in their system. While depressants like alcohol were less common, 11% of truck drivers had depressants in their system.
Commercial truck drivers face several unique challenges on the road. When sharing the road with a large truck, keeping these factors in mind and staying attentive can help keep you and your passengers safe.