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Common Causes of Large Truck Crashes

Published on Jan 22, 2014 at 8:22 am in Trucking Accident.

Kentucky Truck AccidentWhen it comes to serious crashes involving large trucks, experts say there is rarely one single cause of the accident. When large trucks (usually considered to be those with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds) are involved in accidents with passenger vehicles, data shows that the cars are at fault most of the time.

Rarely One Single Factor

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a large study examining the causes for serious crashes involving large trucks for a period covering April 2001 through December 2003. Each accident involved at least one large truck and resulted in a fatality or injury.

Of the 963 crashes selected for analysis, 73% involved a large truck colliding with at least one other vehicle. The study found that in the majority of accidents, rarely was there a single factor causing the incident. Among factors that contributed to the accidents were:

  • Driver training and experience,
  • Vehicle design and manufacture,
  • Highway condition and traffic signaling, and
  • Weather conditions.

Cars More at Fault

In another study, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute looked at 8,300 fatal truck-car accidents to determine fault. Their findings were:

  • 81% of the time, car drivers were assigned fault.
  • 27% of the time, truck drivers were assigned fault.

The NHTSA’s study showed fault breakdowns from representative data gathered in 2003 this way: Cars were assigned fault:

  • 91% of the time in head-on crashes,
  • 91% of the time in opposite-direction sideswipes,
  • 71% of the time in rear-end crashes, and
  • 77% of the time in same-direction sideswipes.

The FMCSA looked at 6,100 fatal car-truck crashes over a three-year period from 2007 through 2009. In 2007 and 2008, cars were at fault in 85% of accidents; in 2009, cars were at fault in 81% of the crashes.

While these statistics may be surprising in light of the serious dangers that large trucks pose on the road, all drivers should understand the many different hazards on the road. Truck drivers also pose serious threats and are responsible for some of the most devastating crashes on the road. In a later blog, we’ll look at safe driving practices that car drivers can adopt around large trucks.