Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?

truck after an accident

Semi-truck accidents and other large vehicle accidents that involve passenger vehicles can be catastrophic and life-changing events. Investigations into the causes of these accidents are often multi-pronged and include detailed and in-depth analysis by a multidisciplinary team of experts who have expertise in crash reconstruction, vehicle dynamics, psychology, and other relevant disciplines. So, why do truck accidents happen?


Answering: why do truck accidents happen?

In order to figure out the best way to prevent more crashes from happening, data about accidents that have already occurred are collected every year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration releases large truck and bus accident statistics on an annual basis. Recently, the FMCSA conducted a groundbreaking Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), which included a nationwide and multi-year study of the causes and contributing factors of large truck crashes. Large truck crashes include any vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 lbs. For a majority of the crashes, either action or inaction by the drivers of the truck or other vehicles were contributing factors. The kinds of actions or inactions most commonly cited in large truck accidents include the following reasons.

  • Driving too fast and fatigue were reasons cited for drivers of large trucks and passenger vehicles.
  • Fatigue was a contributing factor to accidents twice as often for passenger vehicle drivers than for large truck drivers.
  • Distraction by something inside or outside the vehicle also contributed to the accident, leading the driver to adequately observe the situation
  • Poor decision making including driving too fast for conditions, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, and following other vehicles too closely also led to large truck accidents.
  • Speeding was a contributing factor to accidents more often for truck drivers
  • Generally, truck drivers had a less frequent rate of performance errors (e.g. being asleep, ill, or incapacitated) than drivers of passenger vehicles.

Issues with vehicle safety and performance were more commonly cited by truck drivers. Brake problems were evident in 30 percent of the large trucks but only 5 percent of passenger vehicles when it came to accidents.

Other environmental factors, including roadway issues (16 percent), adverse weather conditions (13 percent), and traffic flow issues (25 percent) accounted for other contributing causes of large truck accidents. Traffic flow problems included a previous crash on the roadway, work zone areas, and rush hour congestion.

What types of large truck accidents are most common? According to available data, the types of crashes varied and resulted in different outcomes, including injuries, death, and no injuries.


  • Nearly one-quarter (23.1 percent) of large truck crashes were caused by a large truck rear-ending a passenger vehicle or another truck and a passenger vehicle rear-ending a large truck.
  • Running off the road and driving out of the lane occurred in 17.8 percent of crashes.
  • Sideswipe or driving in the same direction crashes was the third most common type of large vehicle accidents. These accidents occurred 10.3 percent of the time.
  • Rolling over and turning across into the path of a vehicle happened approximately 8 percent of the time.
  • Other less common types of large truck accidents include intersecting vehicles, head-on, hitting an object in the road, and jackknifing.
  • However, the percentage of accidents could not be classified into any one of these categories.

How can an attorney help someone after a trucking accident?

While data may be a leading force in preventing future accidents, those whose lives have been changed as a result of a trucking accident deserve the right to obtain justice for what happened. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who can protect a victim’s rights and navigate the legal process for those in the wake of a major life event like a trucking accident can be a tool to help the emotional and financial recovery involved. In the cases of life-alternating injuries or wrongful death, no one can take away the pain and suffering involved. A trucking accident attorney can be there to help ease the complexity of the post-accident process and obtain justice on behalf of the trucking accident victims.