Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

How truck accidents happen

We’ve all seen the aftermath of a serious truck accident along highways, freeways and the Pennsylvania turnpike. Truck accidents fall under that category of a scene so horrible you can’t look away. While the truck often appears none-the-worse off for the crash, we are left to wonder what could possibly have happened to the poor driver and passengers in the smaller car that is often crushed beyond recognition.

How many accidents involve large commercial trucks each year?

Before the statistics about truck accidents can be put into perspective, it is important to understand the sheer scope of the over-the-road (OTR) transportation industry in this country. There are currently more than 1.1 million OTR haulers on our roads and freeways, hauling more than 11 billion tons of freight valued at more than $8 trillion (yes, with a t).

That means tens of thousands of trucks crisscross Pennsylvania, about four percent of every registered vehicle on our roads. It isn’t accurate to think that truck drivers in the cab are completely safe. More than 500 truckers or truck cab passengers are killed in truck crashes in a typical year, with more than 20,000 more injured. That amounts to nearly 15 percent of all highway traffic fatalities each year.

What are the primary causes of truck accidents?

The lopsided injury and fatality statistics leave us wondering whether the truck driver or the truck company is generally at fault for the crash. The reality is that many (perhaps most) of the accidents are the result of impatient drivers trying to pass in a dangerous area or not using common sense when following a truck too closely.

With that said, truck drivers, themselves, are often pushed to the limit of their endurance after hours behind the wheel trying to make up for lost time. Common causes of accidents resulting from truck driver or truck company negligence include:

  • Tire blowouts causing the driver to lose control at highway speeds
  • Engine breakdown or hood flying open
  • Trucker driving too fast for weather, road or grade conditions
  • Sudden cargo shift, throwing the trailer off balance
  • Truck driver falling asleep at the wheel

When driving near a truck, use common sense

While truck drivers are required to be well trained to obtain and maintain their commercial drivers license (CDL), there are things that happen on the road that can cause them to lose control of the situation. The sheer size and weight of their rigs requires many times more stopping distance than a car requires. Their trailers catch wind gusts that can make controlling steering extremely difficult. Brakes fail. Gears don’t shift. Trailers jackknife during emergency stops.

While many of the causes of truck crashes may be pinned on the trucker or truck driver, it is important to remember, The graveyard is full of people who had the right-of-way.” Use common sense when driving behind them or around them on the road.

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Toll Free: 866-466-5789
Phone: 412-567-1232
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