Causes of Truck Accidents & How to Avoid Them

April 13, 2022

Causes of Truck Accidents & How to Avoid Them

When drivers spend so much time on the road, some fender-benders and minor accidents are inevitable. But a lot of accidents can be avoided with proper fleet maintenance and driver training.

What are the most common causes of truck accidents?

The most common causes of truck accidents are mechanical defects or failures. This includes issues with brakes, steering, wheels and tires. It takes a skilled driver to react and safely navigate a heavily loaded semi when facing mechanical failure while driving. And even if you do everything perfectly according to your training, accidents can still result. Know what your company’s process or schedule is for maintaining trucks, and always make sure to report any issues you notice right away. If you’re an owner-operator, truck maintenance is your responsibility. Make sure your rig is regularly inspected and maintained so you can avoid mechanical issues on the road.

Some factors that increase the instances of truck accidents include vehicle weight. While a regular passenger vehicle typically weighs about 2.5 tons, a semi truck can weigh upwards of 40 tons, depending on what you’re hauling. That means that your truck will take a lot longer to stop, even if you react quickly to an issue. Uneven loading, cargo shifting, and unsafe driving practices can all increase the chances of a serious accident. And as the driver, you can be held liable when accidents result from loads not being properly secured.

How can you reduce the risk of a large truck accident?

Most truck accidents have one thing in common: driver error. The good news is you can avoid many accidents by staying vigilant and conscious of the risks, such as:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Road construction
  • Failing to adjust driving to weather conditions
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Overloading cargo
  • Failing to maintain trucks
  • Failing to observe or enforce driver break periods

Truck accidents can also  be prevented by making sure that you are following the Hours of Service regulations and are driving safely, especially in severe weather conditions. Drive under the speed limit, stay focused on the road (not on your text messages), and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Always use your best judgment when driving in adverse weather conditions, or when experiencing fatigue. Listen to your body and your instincts. If you feel like it’s not safe for you to drive for any reason, take a break and park your rig until the weather gets better or you can catch a nap. You can also re-route yourself around problem roads. If you cannot safely navigate the route you’re on, you can always take a few minutes to figure out an alternate path to get to your destination safely.

It is better to arrive late with your load than to endanger yourself and others on the road by driving recklessly.

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