Commercial truck drivers play an indispensable role in our economy, transporting goods across the nation, ensuring store shelves are stocked, and contributing to the flow of commerce. However, as their importance continues to grow, so does the concerning trend of fatal truck accidents. As we recognize the vital role big truck drivers play, we must also address the rising number of accidents, understand why they happen, and acknowledge what makes them so dangerous.
Accidents involving commercial trucks can be devastating, often resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. Understanding what causes commercial truck accidents is crucial for both prevention and seeking legal recourse in the event of a collision. At The Niblock Law Firm in Arkansas, we’re dedicated to helping victims of truck accidents deal with the complexities of these cases. Let’s delve into the common causes of commercial truck accidents and why they are so severe.
Common Causes of Accidents With Commercial Trucks in Arkansas
Commercial truck accidents share some common causes with regular car accidents but tend to be more severe due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident caused by factors not listed here but which can be attributed to someone else’s negligence, you may still have a valid case.
Truck Driver Error
Truck drivers face unique challenges that, when not managed effectively, can lead to devastating accidents. Here, we delve into some of the critical aspects of truck driver errors that can contribute to accidents on our roads.
Driving Drowsy: Long hours on the road can result in truck drivers becoming easily overworked. As the miles accumulate, fatigue can creep in, impairing a driver’s focus and reaction times. The dangers of drowsy driving cannot be overstated, as they increase the risk of accidents not only for the truck driver but for all others sharing the road.
Speeding: Speeding is a leading cause of accidents involving commercial trucks. When these massive vehicles exceed speed limits, they become even more challenging to control and stop in emergencies. The combination of size, weight, and excessive speed creates a recipe for disaster.
Driving Under the Influence: Truck drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs pose a significant danger on the road. Impaired judgment and slower reaction times can lead to catastrophic accidents. Substances impairing a driver’s abilities have no place behind the wheel of such powerful machines.
Unsafe Turns at Intersections: Intersections can be high-risk areas for accidents involving commercial trucks. Failing to make safe turns at these junctions can lead to collisions with other vehicles, particularly in high-traffic areas. Vigilance and adherence to safe turning practices are paramount.
Not Looking Before Changing Lanes: Blind spots on commercial trucks are extensive, making it essential for drivers to check them thoroughly before changing lanes. Failing to do so can result in serious accidents, especially when smaller vehicles are in these blind spots. Effective monitoring and use of mirrors are crucial for avoiding such collisions.
Lack of Experience on Rural Roads/Mountainous Areas of Arkansas: Arkansas is known for its dangerous roads, including those that run through the Ozark Mountains. Inexperienced truck drivers may struggle to make it through these areas safely, leading to accidents.
Negligence Not Involving the Truck Driver
While truck drivers play a pivotal role in road safety, sometimes they are not the sole party at fault, or, in some cases, they may not be at fault at all. In these complex situations, understanding the broader context of commercial truck accidents becomes essential.
Trucking Company Negligence
Trucking companies play a pivotal role in the safety of commercial truck operations. Ensuring that their vehicles are properly maintained and inspected is not just a legal requirement but a critical responsibility. When trucking companies fail in these duties, the consequences can be dire.
Proper Maintenance and Inspection: Commercial trucks are complex machines that require regular maintenance to function safely. Neglecting routine inspections and necessary repairs can result in mechanical failures while on the road. Brakes may become worn, tires may deteriorate, and engine components can malfunction, all of which can lead to accidents.
Training and Supervision: Lack of adequate training and supervision for truck drivers can also contribute to accidents. Drivers must be well-trained not only in operating their vehicles but also in handling various road conditions and potential emergencies. Without proper training, drivers may make errors in judgment, fail to respond appropriately to adverse conditions, or overlook critical safety procedures.
Mechanical failures are among the most serious contributing factors in commercial truck accidents. These failures can occur suddenly and without warning, leaving the driver with limited options for avoiding a collision.
Brake Failure: Brake failure is one of the most alarming mechanical issues that can occur during a truck’s operation. When brakes fail, the truck becomes extremely difficult to control and stopping becomes nearly impossible. The truck may collide with other vehicles or objects, leading to catastrophic accidents.
Tire Blowouts: Tire blowouts are another critical concern. The sudden loss of a tire’s integrity can destabilize a truck, causing the driver to struggle with steering and maintaining control. A tire blowout can lead to rollovers, collisions, or the truck veering into oncoming traffic, putting everyone on the road at risk.
Defective Truck Parts: Sometimes, accidents occur due to defects in the truck itself, such as faulty brakes, steering mechanisms, or other critical components. Manufacturers, maintenance companies, or suppliers may be held liable if defective parts are identified as contributing factors in an accident.
Cargo-related issues are yet another dimension of commercial truck accidents, and they can have serious consequences for road safety.
Cargo Shifting: When cargo is improperly loaded or secured, it can shift during transit, affecting the truck’s balance and handling. This sudden shift can catch the driver off guard, making it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle.
Overloading: Overloading a truck beyond its recommended capacity places excessive stress on its components, including brakes and tires. This can lead to mechanical failures and decreased maneuverability, increasing the risk of accidents.
Improper Securement: Failing to properly secure cargo can result in items falling from the truck, creating hazards for other drivers. Loose cargo can obstruct the road or cause collisions as vehicles attempt to avoid debris
While some factors in commercial truck accidents may be beyond anyone’s control, they can still play a pivotal role in your truck accident claim. Acknowledging these elements is vital to understanding the full scope of the incident.
Bad Weather: Adverse weather conditions can significantly impact the ability to control a commercial truck, leading to accidents. While truck drivers still have a responsibility to drive safely in bad weather, including reducing speed and increasing following distances, the challenges posed by rain, snow, ice, or fog cannot be underestimated. Reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces can quickly turn a routine drive into a hazardous situation.
Bad Roads: An analysis by Consumer Affairs found that Arkansas ranks among the top ten states with the worst road conditions in the U.S. Poorly maintained roads increase the risk of accidents. Truck drivers should still use caution on rough roads, adjusting their speed and maneuvers accordingly, but in some cases, government entities responsible for road upkeep could be held responsible if their negligence in repairing an extremely degraded road led to an accident.
It’s worth noting that a combination of these factors can lead to a single catastrophic accident, making it essential to thoroughly investigate the cause.
What Makes Truck Accidents More Dangerous?
The size and weight of commercial trucks are two critical factors that make them exceptionally dangerous in accidents. These trucks can weigh up to a staggering 80,000 pounds, making them significantly larger and heavier than typical passenger vehicles. When these massive vehicles collide with smaller cars, the consequences are often devastating, with catastrophic injuries and fatalities all too common.
Another alarming aspect of commercial trucks is their longer stopping distances. Unlike passenger cars, trucks require much more road space and time to come to a complete stop. This characteristic can be especially perilous in emergencies or heavy traffic, where the inability to stop quickly can lead to severe collisions.
Moreover, commercial trucks have extensive blind spots, which are areas around the truck where the driver’s visibility is severely limited. These blind spots make it challenging for truck drivers to see smaller vehicles around them, including cars and motorcycles. When other drivers find themselves in these blind spots, they become vulnerable to accidents, as the truck driver may not be aware of their presence.
These factors collectively highlight the increased dangers associated with commercial trucks on our roads.
A Collision With a Tractor Trailer Can Be Deadly
Collisions with tractor-trailers can be heart-wrenchingly tragic, and the statistics are deeply concerning. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) paints a grim picture: over 65% of the lives lost in truck accidents each year belong to the occupants of passenger vehicles. The toll of fatal truck accidents has been relentlessly climbing year after year, leaving families shattered by the sudden loss of their loved ones.
If you find yourself grappling with the unimaginable pain of losing a family member in a truck accident, The Niblock Law Firm extends our heartfelt condolences. We understand that this is an incredibly difficult time for you and your family. In such circumstances, seek solace in knowing that you have the support and expertise of compassionate legal professionals who can help you explore your legal options for filing a wrongful death claim.
The Cause of an Accident May Not Be Obvious—Don’t Go It Alone
Determining the causes of a commercial truck accident can be challenging, especially when factors other than the truck driver’s actions are involved. If you believe the truck driver did not appear to do anything wrong, you may not have the full picture. This is why it’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney from The Niblock Law Firm if you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident.
You may not be aware that laws were broken by the truck driver or that negligence on the part of the trucking company or other parties played a role in the accident. Our dedicated legal team can help you investigate the accident, identify responsible parties, and pursue the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Arkansas, contact The Niblock Law Firm to discuss your case and protect your rights. Don’t navigate the complexities of a truck accident claim alone. We are prepared to fight for your rights.