There are many different reasons for trucking accidents including driver fatigue or distraction, reckless or negligent driving, poorly trained drivers, mechanical defects on the truck including tire blowouts or brake failure, and poorly secured cargo. Truck drivers get paid for the time they are actually behind the wheel driving which means many truck drivers drive for longer periods of time than legally allowed. Even though the driver may realize he or she is fatigued, the more miles made each day, the better the paycheck. Trucking companies often look the other way even though they are fully aware their drivers are putting in too many miles. It comes down to the financial bottom line for trucking companies in the same way it does for the truck drivers; every hour the driver is on the road means a bigger financial payout. One study found that the risk of a truck driver causing a collision more than doubles after 8-10 hours behind the wheel. Because of this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration imposed stricter regulations a few years ago, but there are still lots of drowsy truck drivers on our nation’s highways.  Below are some of the primary causes of semi-truck accidents.

 Are Inexperienced Drivers a Factor in Semi-Truck Accidents?

One factor in commercial trucking accidents is a lack of experience on the part of the truck driver. Even though drivers of commercial vehicles are required to attend training programs that teach them how to handle and maneuver an 80,000-pound vehicle while sharing the road with much smaller vehicles, many truck drivers take to the road before they have the training and experience required. Perhaps there was inclement weather and the driver was not experienced enough to understand how to handle the truck on a slick road. An inexperienced driver may also have disregarded traffic rules, engaged in excessive speed for the conditions, or maneuvered the truck in such a way that put those around him in harm’s way simply through a lack of experience. Further, although trucking companies must perform comprehensive background checks on their new hires, there is a certain amount of cutting corners among the industry as a whole that takes place.

Can Mechanical Defects Cause Semi-Truck Accidents?

In a fully loaded commercial semi-truck, such things as brake failure or a tire blowout can be deadly. Although it is rare that brakes will fail completely when they are poorly maintained accidents can happen. The heavy loads carried by trucks put an inordinate strain on the braking system which is the reason federal regulations mandate routine brake inspections. In the event a truck driver is unable to avoid an unexpected road hazard, poorly maintained brakes can potentially cause a fatal accident. Should a truck driver suddenly apply the brakes when a car in front stops unexpectedly, the truck can jackknife, causing other vehicles on the road to collide and creating a multi-car pileup. Even with well-maintained brakes, trucks take a considerably longer distance to stop than passenger vehicles.

What About Poorly Secured Cargo?

Trucks often carry loads that are top-heavy, meaning they can potentially turn over when rounding a curve in the road, spilling cargo across the highway. Tanker-trailers which carry liquids—often hazardous liquids—can sometimes slosh back and forth, then if the trucker makes a quick stop, the liquid pushes forward violently, resulting in a crash. Occasionally, a truck driver might skip checking the straps that hold cargo onto the trailer, resulting in an accident when the cargo falls off in heavy traffic.

Do Truck Drivers Get Distracted?

Just like all drivers, truck drivers can engage in distracted driving. Many truck drivers eat entire meals behind the wheel in order to save time. Truck drivers may talk on their cell phones, text, change radio stations, try to set an address on their GPS, look at a map, or talk to a passenger, all of which takes attention away from the road and from other drivers.

 Getting Legal Help

If you are the victim of a tired, inexperienced or negligent truck driver, a trucking company that is trying to cover up the cause of the accident, or a negligent cargo loader, truck manufacturer, or maintenance company, you need the experienced assistance of a Tronfeld, West & Durrett attorney. We have been helping people who have been involved in truck accidents for a very long time, and we can help you. Your case may require a comprehensive review in order to find the liable party, so having qualified legal representation is essential. Contact the Virginia truck accident attorneys at Tronfeld, West & Durrett today.