Why Truck Accidents Tend to be So Dangerous


Few incidents carry as much potential for devastation as truck accidents. These towering behemoths of the road, often weighing up to 80,000 pounds, command a significant presence on highways and city streets alike.

According to the NHTSA, 2021 alone saw around 523,796 large truck accidents in the US. While accidents involving trucks may not be as common as those involving smaller vehicles, their consequences are often far more severe. 

Understanding why truck accidents are so dangerous is crucial for both motorists and policymakers alike. Here are a few key reasons that shed light on the gravity of these incidents.

Massive Size and Weight

At the heart of the danger posed by truck accidents lies the sheer mass and weight of these vehicles. Unlike passenger cars, trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times as much.

Take the case of Freightliner Trucks. According to Statista, these trucks are the most popular freight trucks in the US. This truck company’s most popular model, the Freightliner Cascadia 125, has a gross vehicle weight of 26 tons.  

When a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, the force of impact is disproportionately high. This often leads to catastrophic injuries and fatalities for those in the smaller vehicle. Moreover, the momentum of a moving truck makes it difficult to stop quickly, exacerbating the likelihood and severity of collisions.

Limited Maneuverability

Maneuvering a large truck requires skill and caution. However, even the most experienced truck drivers face challenges due to the vehicle’s limited maneuverability.

Factors such as blind spots, longer braking distances, and difficulty in navigating tight spaces increase the likelihood of accidents. Maneuvering errors, such as failing to signal lane changes or misjudging distances during turns, can escalate into catastrophic collisions, endangering everyone on the road. This was something that happened in St. Louis just a couple of months back. 

KMOV reported that a semi-truck crash blocked traffic on I-255 in South County, St. Louis. Thankfully, no serious injuries were reported. Had that been the case, anyone who was injured would’ve contacted a St. Louis trucking accident lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

According to TorHoerman Law, personal injury lawyers and law firms frequently have to deal with truck and car accidents. The victims in these personal injury cases usually want to secure compensation for paying off the medical bills they incurred due to the accidents. 

Driver Fatigue and Long Hours

Long hours behind the wheel are an unfortunate reality for many truck drivers. In the pursuit of meeting demanding delivery schedules, drivers often push themselves to the brink, leading to fatigue and drowsiness.

Research published by the National Institutes of Health shows that fatigue significantly impairs a truck driver’s cognitive abilities and reaction times. This makes the drivers more prone to errors and accidents. Despite regulations aimed at limiting driving hours and mandating rest breaks, instances of driver fatigue persist, posing a grave danger to road users.

Cargo Shifts and Improper Loading

Ensuring that cargo is properly secured and evenly distributed within a truck is paramount for safe transportation. However, instances of improper loading or cargo shifts during transit can destabilize the vehicle, leading to loss of control and potentially catastrophic accidents. 

Moreover, cargo that exceeds weight limits or is improperly secured can increase braking distances and compromise vehicle stability, amplifying the risk of collisions. Addressing these issues requires stringent adherence to loading protocols and regular inspections to prevent accidents stemming from cargo-related issues.

Inadequate Maintenance and Mechanical Failures

Like all vehicles, trucks require regular maintenance to ensure their safe operation. However, due to the high mileage and rigorous demands of commercial transportation, some trucking companies prioritize profits over safety, leading to inadequate maintenance practices.

Mechanical failures, such as brake malfunctions, tire blowouts, or steering system faults, can have catastrophic consequences when they occur at highway speeds. While regulations mandate routine inspections and maintenance, lapses in adherence can have dire implications for road safety.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the main cause of distracted driving?

Sending text messages, talking on the phone, using a navigation system, or eating while driving are prime examples of distracted driving. Each of these distractions poses a significant risk not only to you and your passengers but also to other road users.

Why are truck drivers so tired and overworked?

Numerous truck drivers endure extended shifts, occasionally spanning up to 14 hours per day, leading to physical and mental fatigue. Furthermore, trucking companies frequently enforce strict deadlines on drivers, fostering an environment where there’s pressure to extend driving hours and forego essential rest breaks.

When can you sue a trucking company?

In cases where the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, you have the option to pursue legal action against the company. The truck driver acts as a representative of the company, making the company liable for the actions of its employees.

In conclusion, truck accidents represent a unique and formidable threat to road safety due to several factors as listed above. Addressing these issues requires an approach involving stricter enforcement of regulations and investment in driver training and fatigue management programs. There’s also the need for improvements in vehicle maintenance practices and enhanced collaboration between stakeholders across the trucking industry.

By understanding the underlying reasons behind the dangers posed by truck accidents, we can work towards mitigating risks and creating safer roads for all.