Many people instinctively feel nervous when a large truck looms behind them or appears directly to either side of them. They know that the truck is so large it could destroy their smaller vehicle. Most drivers will be on their best behavior when they see a large truck very nearby because they want to avoid a crash that might leave them injured or destroy their vehicles.
The more you understand the causes of large truck crashes, the easier it will be for you to adjust your own driving behaviors to minimize your risk of one of these catastrophic collisions. What are the most common issues that contribute to collisions between commercial and passenger vehicles?
1. Incorrect decision by the driver
According to crash data published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, errors in decision-making or judgment at the wheel are a leading cause of trucking collisions. For example, a driver may follow another vehicle too closely or turn their vehicle too sharply given their load and road conditions. Poor decision-making is the action to blame for roughly 38% of the crashes in which a commercial truck was at fault.
2. Failure to recognize
As the name implies, there are many situations in which truckers don’t properly evaluate their surroundings. Possibly due to distraction, such as a phone call from a loved one, or even fatigue, a truck driver’s failure to recognize other vehicles and safety concerns in traffic can frequently lead to collisions. Recognition issues cause another 28% of crashes.
Sometimes, the fatigue of working 12-hour shifts or even longer, combined with a commute and family responsibilities, can lead to overwhelming fatigue. Sometimes, drivers fall asleep at the wheel, which is a common form of non-performance. Other times, their non-performance is not due to a failure on their part but to some kind of medical emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack. Non-performance is responsible for roughly 12% of the collisions caused by commercial vehicles.
4. Issues with the vehicle itself
In approximately 10% of the collisions involving commercial trucks, it is a problem with the vehicle that leads to the driver losing control and causing a crash. The brakes could be bad, a tire could blow out or the cargo in the trailer could move and lead to the driver losing control.
Although you cannot control any of these situations, recognizing why these truck-car crashes occur can help you better choose how to drive around commercial vehicles. Educating yourself about commercial truck collisions and other kinds of wrecks can help you improve your own safety practices as you drive.