What Are The Most Common Ways Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?

What Are The Most Common Ways Truck Drivers Cause Accidents?

Commercial truck drivers cause accidents with passenger vehicles far too often. A passenger vehicle does not stand a chance against a large commercial truck. Commercial truck drivers must ensure they do not cause an accident.

An accident with a commercial truck driver can leave you with serious injuries and property damage. You need an attorney to protect your rights after an accident. If you have suffered an injury with a commercial truck driver, contact an Bakersfield truck accident attorney immediately to protect your ability to recover financially after the crash.

Violating FMCSA Rules and Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry. The FMCSA limits the number of hours a driver can work. Along with the number of hours, the FMCSA regulates the trucking industry in the following ways:

Drivers must complete a pre-trip and post-trip inspection report. Commercial truck drivers must sign their reports and verify that they inspected the following:

  • Emergency equipment
  • Service brakes
  • Parking brakes
  • Lights
  • Horns
  • Tires
  • Rear-view mirrors
  • Wheels and rims
  • Coupling devices and reflectors

Driver must follow the following time restrictions:

  • Every driver must take a 30-minute rest break in each 11-hour shift.
  • Prohibitions exist against drivers exceeding 11 hours of continuous driving.
  • Driving is limited to a 14-hour window.

These restrictions aim to decrease the chances of a large truck accident. Commercial truck drivers who disobey these regulations might be negligent if they cause an accident. An attorney will investigate whether the driver’s failure to comply with FMCSA regulations caused the accident. If their inaction caused the crash, your attorney can hold the driver and the trucking company accountable.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving happens when a driver takes their attention away from driving. Even one moment of losing focus can mean an accident can happen. Distracted commercial truck drivers can cause a major traffic accident.

Distracted Driving

There are three main categories of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visually distracted driving happens when the driver takes their eyes off the road. Manual distracted driving happens when the driver takes their hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions happen when drivers daydream or stop focusing on driving. Any type of distraction, however slight, can mean a serious accident.

Commercial truck drivers caught driving their rigs while distracted will face serious consequences. The FMCSA prohibits any distracted driving, especially using mobile devices. Drivers cannot reach, hold, dial, text, or read from any mobile device while driving. Commercial truck drivers will be fined up to $2,750 and can have driving privileges disqualified for up to 120 days. Distracted driving violations are considered serious traffic violations for commercial truck drivers.


Speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents across the country. According to the National Safety Council, speeding contributed to 29 percent of all traffic crashes nationwide. 33 people died in speeding-related accidents.

When drivers speed, they contribute to death and injury. Commercial truck drivers who speed can cause serious accidents like:

  • Wide-turn crashes
  • T-bone accidents
  • Rollover accidents
  • Rear-end crashes
  • Jackknife crashes

Large truck drivers must be careful to avoid speeding. It takes significantly longer for a commercial truck to come to a complete stop than an average-sized passenger vehicle. Speeding and large trucks can lead to an accident with catastrophic injuries or cause the victim’s death.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is entirely preventable. Accidents involving an impaired driver are also totally avoidable. Unfortunately, impaired driving traffic crashes happen daily. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 30 percent of all deadly traffic crashes across the country involve drunk drivers. 13,384 people died because of an impaired driver in an earlier year.

Driving while under the influence has even deadlier results for commercial truck drivers. As a part of its road safety program, the FMCSA requires truck drivers to submit to random drug and alcohol testing.

drunk drivingSubstance Abuse

Substance abuse among commercial truck drivers is as dangerous of a trend as drunk driving. Unfortunately, substance abuse disorder is common among truckers. Commercial truck drivers tend to use drugs to improve their performance to help them drive further and meet tight deadlines.

Many truck drivers report using substances, including the following, as a way to complete their job duties.

  • Amphetamines
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine

When commercial truck drivers misuse substances, it’s a serious issue that can lead to injuries and even fatal accidents. This puts the drivers at risk and endangers everyone else on the road. Substance abuse affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions, coordinate movements, and react quickly, making accidents more likely. Having clear rules, regular testing, and educational programs in the commercial trucking industry. By addressing substance abuse, we can make our roads safer for everyone.

Driver Error

Commercial truck drivers cause accidents because of driver error. Driver error includes any behavior that risks the driver’s and other travelers’ safety. Driver error can include impaired, aggressive, tired, or distracted driving. Driving errors can also include not following traffic laws or not performing regular vehicle maintenance. Any mistake the driver makes that causes an accident is a driving error.

Driver error accidents are common across the United States. Several sources compiled statistics related to the prevalence of driver error.

  • The United States General Services Administration found that 98 percent of traffic crashes happened because of driver error.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 41 percent of accidents happened because of recognition errors, and 33 percent happened due to decision errors.
  • The National Safety Council published injury facts. They found the following driver errors to be the most prevalent:
    • Failure to yield the right-of-way- 6.9 percent
    • Careless driving- 7.5 percent
    • Speeding- 18.4 percent
    • Improper lane usage- 6.6 percent

Bad Truck Maintenance

Trucking companies and drivers must properly keep their vehicles. The FMCSA requires that truck drivers inspect their vehicles before and after trips. After the inspection, truckers must sign a written report verifying that the rig is safe to drive.

Bad Truck Maintenance

A typical inspection requires the trucker to look at the condition of the truck’s emergency brakes, tires, horns, mirrors, etc.

Drivers cannot take a truck on the road they consider unsafe or needing repair. A truck driver who operates a vehicle that needs maintenance is negligent. Poorly maintained commercial trucks contribute to nearly 40 percent of truck accidents, according to the FMCSA. The FMCSA also found that vehicle failure due to improper maintenance was the cause of ten percent of truck accidents.

According to the FMCSA, the top vehicle maintenance issues that contribute to commercial truck accidents include:

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is dangerous. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as operating a vehicle in a way that puts people or property in danger. Commercial truckers who drive aggressively can cause accidents. Aggressive drivers usually get so angry that they behave in ways that can cause an accident. Aggressive drivers are more likely to:

  • Speed
  • Make unsafe lane changes.
  • Disobey traffic laws
  • Tailgate
  • Road rage

Any of the above behaviors is dangerous on its own and in a normal-sized car. An aggressive truck driver makes road conditions even more dangerous.

Driver Fatigue

Drowsy driving is a risk in the trucking industry. Commercial truck drivers tend to work very long hours without breaks. Although the FMCSA limits the number of hours that truckers can work and requires truckers to take breaks between starting shifts, sometimes drivers violate those regulations.

Fatigued driving happens for many reasons, including:

  • Medications
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress
  • Working long hours
  • Driving long distances without breaks
  • Poor quality sleep

Driver fatigue has serious consequences. Among the consequences of drowsy driving, two of the scariest are tunnel vision and microsleep.

Driver Fatigue

If drivers get behind the wheel without enough sleep, they risk getting tunnel vision. Tunnel vision causes truckers to lose the ability to see what is happening in their periphery. Losing periphery vision is dangerous for truck drivers because trucks have large blind spots. Traffic accidents are more likely to occur without peripheral vision.

Sleepy drivers also experience microsleeps. Microsleeps happen when a fatigued driver experiences brief episodes of sleep. Episodes can last for a second up to 30 seconds. If drivers close their eyes even briefly, they can cause an accident.

Fatigue also causes drivers to make poor last-second decisions, reaction times are slower, and drivers can swerve into another lane. Any of these consequences of driving while sleepy can cause a serious accident, especially if a commercial driver is involved.

Inadequate Driver Training and Inexperienced Drivers

Commercial drivers with inadequate training or experience can cause traffic accidents because they are more likely to make mistakes. New drivers likely do not have enough experience to react safely to bad road conditions, weather, or emergencies. Inexperienced or untrained drivers are more likely to get into serious traffic accidents.

Blind Spots

A blind spot limits a driver’s vision. A blind spot accident happens when the truck driver does not see another driver, which causes a traffic accident.

Commercial vehicles have large blind spots. A commercial truck can have blind spots that span several hundred feet. Any vehicle in the driver’s blind spot is vulnerable to a crash. The truck driver is responsible for checking their blind spots despite any difficulty.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Despite having very large blind spots, commercial truck drivers must make sure that they always change lanes safely. Failing to safely change lanes can cause a truck driver to not see any vehicles in their


Tailgating is unsafe, and no one should do it. Tailgating happens when a driver follows a lead car too closely. An accident can happen if the lead driver stops suddenly or the tailgating driver does not brake quickly enough to avoid an accident. A commercial truck driver who tailgates another driver can cause serious injuries to the front driver.

Not Obeying Traffic Signs

All drivers need to obey traffic laws at all times. Running a red light, for example, can cause an accident. Commercial truck drivers risk their CDL licenses if they do not pay close attention to and obey traffic laws.

Improper Loading

Imbalanced loads can cause rollover accidents. A rollover accident happens when a vehicle tips over on its side or onto its roof. When a commercial truck rolls over, there is a great possibility of a multi-car accident.

While most trucking companies hire employees to load their trucks, drivers ensure each load is safely secured and balanced. Improperly loaded cargo can cause a traffic accident. Freight or hazardous materials can spread across the highway and lead to serious injuries.

Failure to Drive Safely in the Weather Conditions

Even if a commercial truck driver otherwise makes no mistakes while driving, they must make adjustments to make driving conditions safe in inclement weather. Driving below the posted speed limit is proper to make the road safer for everyone.

Is The Trucking Company Responsible?

The trucking company might be responsible for paying your damages after an accident if the trucker is their employee. It is common in the trucking industry for drivers to work for companies or work for themselves as independent contractors. If the trucker caused the accident and was employed by the company when the accident happened, you might be entitled to recover your damages from the trucking company.

An attorney can guide your understanding of your rights to recovery. If you suspect the driver and the trucking company are responsible for the crash, speak to a truck accident lawyer to learn your options.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today!

Truck Accident Attorney, Mickey Fine

Mickey Fine, Bakersfield Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents are scary. As a passenger vehicle driver, you are vulnerable to severe injury and death if you collide with one of these massive vehicles. Negligent commercial truck drivers and companies are responsible for paying your damages after an accident.

Facing insurance companies alone after an accident can feel overwhelming. Hiring an attorney helps you create the best legal team for your case. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a crash that involved a commercial truck driver, contact an attorney today.


Truck Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on