What types of truck driver errors and behaviors can lead to a truck and trailer accident? How many accidents are caused by certain types of driver errors in the US each year? Semi-trucks are complex machines, and there are many types of errors that can cause an accident. These include overloading or improperly balancing the load within the vehicle, not checking components for signs of excessive wear/tear that can lead to failure, driving while distracted, and failing to adjust driving behaviors to match road and weather conditions.
If a vehicle is overloaded, there is a high likelihood that the center of gravity of the truck and trailer has changed. This increases the risk of having a rollover accident. In 2016, 197 semi-trucks rolled over. This was a significant increase over the 159 that rolled over in 2015, and the 157 recorded in 2014. Similarly, if a cargo load is improperly secured, it can shift or fall off the truck and trailer. In 2016, 6 such incidents caused a large truck accident. This was three times the number recorded in 2015, but slightly less than the 11 that were recorded in 2014. Improper loading does more than negatively affect a semi-truck's balance. It can also negatively affect its handling characteristics. If the rear axle has significantly more weight than the front axle, it diminishes the front wheel's contact with the road surface. This will cause the tires to prematurely wear out and it can damage braking and steering functions.
Driver distraction is a growing concern. When a driver is distracted, they may not notice obstructions in the roadway. For example, in 2016, 42 semi-trucks collided with parked cars and 355 collided with other fixed objects. Cell phones are among the most common distractions, and truck drivers are 23 times more likely to cause a distracted driving accident while talking on the phone. As a result, new rules went into effect in 2012 banning their use while driving.
Drivers can also fail to properly adjust their driving behaviors to account for weather conditions. In 2016, 58 accidents occurred in snow and blowing snow conditions, while a further 53 occurred in foggy, smogy, and smoky weather. Even more dangerous was rainy weather, which contributed to causing 241 truck and trailer accidents.
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