Understanding why truck accidents occur is key to preventing future accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are complex, and they typically involve two or more vehicles. There are many factors that can influence an accident, including driver training and experience, highway conditions, weather, fatigue, and speeding.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted the Large Truck Crash Causation Study to determine why accidents occur involving large trucks. Large trucks are those with a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds.
Some of the key facts of the study included:
- Sample size of 963 crashes
- 1,123 large trucks and 959 motor vehicles involved
- 249 fatalities and 1,654 injuries
- 77% of the large trucks were pulling one semi-trailer
- 73% of the accidents involved a large truck hitting at least one other vehicle
A truck inspector and a crash researcher examined each crash site as soon as possible after the accident. Data was collected on up to 1,000 factors, including the condition of the vehicles, the condition of the drivers involved, the drivers’ behavior during the crash, roadway factors, and local weather conditions.
Crash investigators tried to determine the critical event and critical reason for each crash. The critical event was the action that put the vehicle(s) on a course that made a crash inevitable. Three main critical events for large trucks were running out of the travel lane, loss of control due to cargo shifting or speed of the truck, and colliding with another vehicle in the travel lane.
The critical reason is the immediate reason for the crash. It can include driver error, driver training, weather, roadway conditions, or vehicle failure. Driver error was cited by investigators as the most common critical reason for an accident.
About half of the crashes in the study were collisions between a large truck and a passenger vehicle. Critical reasons for these accidents included interruption of traffic flow, being unfamiliar with the roadway, driving too fast, inattention, fatigue, and being distracted by something inside the vehicle.
The results of the study indicated that driving mistakes were most likely to be the main factor in an accident. There were over 120,000 fatal and injury crashes from April 2001 to December 2003 that involved at least one large truck. An experienced truck accident attorney Chicago can be an important resource for victims of truck accidents.