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Truck Accidents: Five Most Common Causes

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Truck accidents involving passenger vehicles often cause serious injury and death. Federal and state legislation has sought to reduce these incidents by regulating the trucking industry. There are however several common causes of accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles which consistently occur. For victims of truck accident, knowing these common causes may assist you in pinpointing areas of interest that your truck accident attorney may want to discuss and review.

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents. Both federal and state law regulate the number of hours a driver can drive in a given day and week. The driver’s time is split between off-duty time, driving time and on-duty time. Off-duty time must be at least 10 consecutive hours. Driving time cannot exceed 11 hours. On-duty time cannot be greater than 14 consecutive hours after coming on-duty. Accumulative on-duty time is also measured. Accumulative on-duty time cannot exceed 60 hours in any seven day period nor 70 hours in an eight day period. These rules are designed to keep drivers fresh and limit the fatigue which is commonly a cause of accidents. An employer can be held liable for allowing or forcing a driver to continue driving when the driver is obligated to rest. The driver keeps a log book in which his on-duty and off-duty time is recorded. A truck accident attorney will review the log book to determine whether these regulations have been met.

Substance Abuse

It isn’t easy maintaining the focus necessary to safely drive a tractor trailer. Some drivers turn to illegal drugs to get a boost to stay awake. Trucking companies are required to make a mandatory substance abuse screening when each driver is hired. During their employment, truck drivers often undergo regular screening or monitoring for substance abuse. If illicit substances or other drugs are found in a driver’s system following a crash, this can be further grounds for a negligence claim against both the driver and the employer.

Speeding and Failing to Adhere to the Rules of the Road

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that over 25% of truckers involved in a fatal crash had a prior conviction for speeding on their record. Trucks are particularly dangerous when driven at a high rate of speed given their size and the longer breaking period to stop. The speed, braking measures and other actions of the driver are measured by investigating police officers and data can be retrieved from an ECM (electronic control module) found on tractors. An expert will oftentimes be involved to download such material and explain it.

Failure to Properly Inspect and Maintain Trucks

Drivers and their employers are legally bound to prevent any known hazards to others on the roadway by rigorous inspection and maintenance of the tractor and trailer. At a minimum this involves appropriate maintenance of the tractor and trailer as well as a pre-trip inspection performed by the driver at every stop. Many companies detail exactly how the pre-trip inspection is to be performed and careful drivers know this process well.

Improperly Loaded Trucks

A poorly loaded trailer impairs the handling ability of the driver and may cause the trailer to tip. Liability for an accident may include not only the driver’s failure to respond to the condition of the traffic on the roadway, but the poor loading of the trailer which affected the ability to control the truck and keep it under control. The weight of the trailer at the time of impact as well as the type of material being hauled must be considered.


The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If you need help with a Truck Accident claim, consult an experienced trucking accident attorney from the law offices of Gordon Elias & Seely, L.L.P. by calling TOLL FREE: 800 - 773 - 6770 OR by filling out the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page.
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