Every year, there are more than 15 million commercial trucks on the nation’s roads, transporting approximately 70 percent of all the products we use. Unfortunately, all those trucks on the roads also add up to many tragic truck accidents. National statistics reveal that there has been an alarming increase each year in the number of truck accidents that occur. In fact, over the past 10 years, the number of truck crashes has spiked by 20 percent.
One of the most significant studies that was conducted to determine what were the most common causes of commercial truck accidents was the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS. The study was a joint effort between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One of the most alarming statistics to come out of the study was that the majority of truck accidents are a result of mistakes made by the person driving the truck.
As part of the study, data from 120,000 fatal commercial truck crashes was examined. These crashes had taken place over a 33-month span. Almost 75 percent of these accidents involved at least one other vehicle.
In 68,000 of these crashes, the truck driver was found to be at fault for the crash. The breakdown of reasons was as follows:
Decision: Decision was defined as the truck driver following other vehicles too closely, failing to adhere to the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions, or misjudging the speed of other vehicles. This was the cause of 30,000 of these fatal crashes, or 38 percent.
Recognition: Recognition was defined as the truck driver becoming distracted by something either in or out of the vehicle, inattentive to the road, or failing to observe and recognize a situation which required action. This was the cause of 22,000 of these fatal crashes, or 28 percent.
Nonperformance of truck driver: Non-performance was defined as either the truck driver falling asleep, suffering a medical condition, or some other impairment that caused the driver to fail to perform behind the wheel of the truck. This was the cause of 9,000 of these fatal crashes, or 12 percent.
Performance: Performance was defined as the driver not exercising good directional control, overcompensating while driving, or panicking. This was the cause of 7,000 of these fatal crashes, or 9 percent.
In a discussion regarding the number of truck driver error accidents, Attorney Grungo commented, “Trucking companies need to be more responsible in who they let behind the wheels of their vehicles. Many of these truck drivers failed to follow safety regulations or even practice safe driving behaviors.”
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