If you’ve been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, or you’re a frequent interstate traveler and want to be more educated about possible dangers, you should know that the two most common causes of fatal accidents involving big-rigs are driver error and equipment problems.
- Driver Error – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that “action or inaction by driver of either the truck or the other vehicle was the critical reason for 88 percent of crashes.”
This study provided unprecedented facts about information before the crash, which gives a fuller picture of all of the factors. By far, the two most common causes of driver error are driver fatigue and sleep deprivation.
Other factors that contribute to driver error include speeding, the use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, fatigue, distractions, inattention, work environment, and being unfamiliar with the road.
- Equipment Problems – Equipment problems are the second most common cause of fatalities involving trucks. Most of these accidents are caused by not maintaining the equipment properly. Accidents can also stem from design or manufacturing errors in the equipment itself (such as faulty tires or faulty back-up warning systems).
Additional causes of fatal crashes involving trucks are weather conditions, road design, and traffic signal failures. Federal regulations require tractor-trailer drivers to slow down when roads are wet or covered with snow.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, it is vital that you gather all information you can about the driver and the vehicle. In many cases, law enforcement will inspect a tractor-trailer after the accident to determine whether or not the equipment is in violation of any federal regulations, such as those that require brakes to be in good working order. You are entitled to get this report from the government agency that oversees the type of truck involved in the accident.
In addition, trucking companies are now using devices much like the “black box” in an airplane. These instruments can provide crucial details including how fast the truck was going before the accident, when the driver used the breaks, patterns of speed, and how many hours the truck had been on the road.
If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, an experienced attorney can help you discover and request information about the vehicle and driver involved. It is important to remember when selecting an attorney to represent you in a case involving a commercial tractor-trailer that they are very different from a typical auto accident. Cases involving tractor-trailers often require specialized knowledge about the rules and regulations that pertain to commercial motor-vehicles.