White "big-rig" truck on two-lane rural highway with trees in the background.

Causes of "Big-Rig" Crashes

Commercial trucks are known as "commercial motor vehicles", which weigh more than 10,001 pounds. With this kind of weight behind it, even a small driving error can have huge consequences. Even though any vehicle crash can have disastrous outcomes, truck collisions are among the worst kind of motor vehicle crashes. Injuries from these types of collisions are often very serious because of the size and weight of the truck. These crashes often result in catastrophic injury, permanent disability and even death. Factors such as weather, road conditions, distracted or aggressive/reckless driving and vehicle performance contribute to these types of accidents. Factors unique to trucks, such as the failure to properly load the truck or secure the load also may play a role in an accident.

Even though drivers are required to inspect their vehicle daily and submit a written report, poor truck maintenance is an issue in truck collisions (10% in 2007 - Statistic from the office of Federal Motor Carrier Safety). The most common recorded causes of truck accidents are driver related (80% - Statistic from the office of Federal Motor Carrier Safety), such as using a cell phone, drug use, traveling too fast for conditions, unfamiliarity with the roadway, bad driving decisions, fatigue/falling asleep, and speeding because of feeling under pressure from the parent company. Some crashes may also be due to inadequate truck driver training. According to the 2009 National Traffic Safety facts report, of all the fatal crashes in the U.S., large trucks accounted for 7%. However, "...of the 3,215 large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 73% were combination trucks."

Although California state law has strict guidelines relating to the safety of truck drivers and trucking companies, sometimes these boundaries are pushed or ignored in the name of making a profit. These regulations deal with truck drivers having a clean driving record, zero drugs and alcohol, a time limit of driving and rest time before driving again and safety inspections of their vehicle every day. To increase truck safety on roads and highways, the NHTSA has just recently proposed (May, 1012) that truck manufacturers must install electronic stability control in new trucks, which prevents rollovers. This technology, which has already been required for years in passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs, automatically applies brakes to individual wheels, which helps correct over-steering and under-steering. It has the potential of preventing over 2,000 crashes a year, which could result in preventing over 600 injuries and saving over 49 lives.  

A personal injury attorney is an important factor which may determine the outcome of your claim. Every claim is different, and must be evaluated on an individual basis, so the information provided here is for general informative purposes only, as it simplifies complex legal issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. For information about your specific claim, please contact an truck accident attorney to evaluate your situation.

The Phillips Law Offices is dedicated to assisting and fighting for individuals who have been injured, disabled or had a family member killed in all types of vehicle or pedestrian crashes in Nevada County, Placer County, and throughout the Sierra foothill communities. We offer legal help and assistance in auto, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian cases. We are a local firm emphasizing personal contact with our clients.

We invite you to call us at (530) 265-0186 to schedule a confidential, no-charge consultation to answer any questions you may have, or, if you prefer, you can e-mail us from the Contact Us page.