All have equal rights on the road. This is true for small-sized motorcycles all the way up to the behemoth semi-trucks. Unfortunately, in an accident, oversized vehicles pack a punch that is just not the same as other, smaller vehicles. Sharing the road with tractor trailers may be an everyday reality for many Americans, but the fact remains that these large motor vehicles can wreak unparalleled devastation when involved in an accident. Remaining vigilant while driving, practicing defensive driving behaviors, and being aware of the most common causes of tractor trailer accidents can all help keep you safe out there on the road.
Common Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents
The causes of tractor trailer accidents are numbered and varied. There can also be a number of causes behind a tractor trailer accident. Here are some of the most common causes of such accidents:
- Driver fatigue: The truck driving is pretty heavily regulated by federal law. Drivers are restricted in the number of hours and miles they can drive in a certain time frame. Unfortunately, many drivers continue driving even beyond the allotted threshold. This means that drivers run the risk of driver fatigue. This can mean slowed reaction time and trouble focusing on the roadway and their surroundings.
- Driver intoxication: Truck drivers, just like drivers of other vehicles, can make the incredibly dangerous choice to drive while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Alcohol can impair judgment, slow reaction times, and greatly impair a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle.
- Driver distraction: Distracted driving has reached new levels in recent years. We cannot seem to detach from our digital devices for any period of time, even while driving. Truck drivers are not exempt from such dangerous behaviors. Truck drivers who are texting, checking their phone, eating, and engaging in any other behavior which takes their attention off of the road are causing tragic accidents.
- Reckless driving maneuvers: This is a broader category which includes things like excessive lane changing, speeding, and disregarding traffic signals. Reckless drivers increase the chance of an accident occurring as a result.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: Without proper vehicle maintenance, trucks can have malfunctioning brakes, tire blowouts, and other vehicle malfunctions which can be major contributing causes to serious accidents.
- Lack of proper driver training: Tractor trailer operators must participate in adequate driver training. Subpar driver training means that the driver runs the risk of trying to operate the vehicle without the necessary skills. If an accident is caused by lack of proper driver training, the trucking company may be held liable for the resulting damages.
- Inclement weather: Rain, snow, sleet, and other bad weather conditions can leave the roads slick and driver visibility impaired. These conditions are particularly dangerous for tractor trailers as slick roads can make it far too easy for the driver to lose control of the vehicle and greatly increase the distance necessary to effectively come to a stop (tractor trailers take a longer time to brake even under the best of driving conditions).
- Poor road conditions: When roads are in disrepair, hazards such as potholes can easily develop on the roadways. Potholes can lead to tire blowouts and tractor trailers, among other vehicles, losing control and causing an accident.