Most of us don’t think about the likelihood of being involved in a road accident, never mind a collision with a truck, when we get into our vehicles. However, some truck accident statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) show that truck accidents are actually on the increase.
Around 500,000 trucking accidents occur every year in the United States. 5,000 of these trucking accidents result in fatalities. Indeed, one out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a trucking collision. It is forgivable to assume that most trucking accidents are caused by tiredness or even minor negligence but driving under the influence (DUI) is actually the leading cause of fatal truck accidents today.
To highlight the issue, here is a list of Oregon truck accident statistics for 2004:
- In 2004, 1,159 truck accidents that caused fatalities, injury or damage, took place in Oregon. This figure is 8.01% higher than in 2003
- 596 accidents were the fault of the truck driver
- 13 truck accidents was the maximum number reported in one day
- 545 people were injured in the above 1,159 truck accidents
Although these figures reflect the accidents that occurred in 2004, the trucking industry has seen continual growth and our congested roads demonstrate that trucking accidents are not likely to have decreased in more recent years.
Truck Driver Error and Other Leading Causes
As mentioned above, the most common cause of commercial truck accidents is an error on the driver’s part. Truck driver’s focus for long stretches of time making them exhausted and prone to falling asleep behind the wheel. This fatigue means they are unable to be fully aware of their surroundings and have slow response times.
Alcohol and substance abuse can also be a contributing factor along with other causes, including:
The second most common cause of commercial truck accidents is equipment failure. This can be caused by a problem with the design or even a flaw in the manufacturing process that resulted in a defect with the truck. Poor maintenance of the truck can also lead to equipment failure. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that every truck driver perform an inspection before they make a journey. Sadly, pre-trip inspections are not always performed and issues with the truck go unnoticed or ignored which leads to equipment failure that causes an accident.
Poor Weather Conditions
Poor weather conditions can play a big factor in the safety of a large truck on the road. Wet roads and windy weather can make it hard for large trucks to brake and maneuver which can lead to disaster. Commercial trucks take longer than cars to come to a stop because of the momentum behind the weight of their load. The weight also makes it more difficult for drivers to steer and avoid obstacles. Adding wind, rain, snow and ice into the equation puts commercial trucks at a higher risk of having an accident.
Improper loading of the truck
Many people might overlook this cause but the manner in which a truck is loaded is crucial to its safety. The load within the truck must be safely distributed and secure so that the weight is evenly balanced. An improperly loaded truck will have shifting cargo that prevents the truck from breaking or steering sufficiently. In some cases, the truck may even roll or flip on its side while attempting to break or make a sharp turn.
In some rare situations, it is also possible for the load to fall off the truck and into traffic which endangers other drivers and causes accidents.
At Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys, P.C., we have had many years’ experience handling personal injury cases involving truck accidents and we want to ensure that you are compensated for any injuries you receive when you become the victim of one. Indeed, we recently obtained nearly $4.5 million at trial in one such trucking injury case.
Those who were at fault for the accident should be held accountable and we will endeavor on your behalf to pursue a claim through the courts for you. If you would like to find out more about compensation for your injuries, we welcome your call today at (541) 617-0555 to arrange an initial consultation with one of our very experienced attorneys.