The size of commercial vehicles makes them very efficient at transporting large amounts of goods or particularly large objects, like parts of offshore wind turbines. Unfortunately, their size also makes them particularly hazardous for other vehicles on the road to encounter.
Sometimes, people in passenger vehicles make poor choices that result in major crashes. However, is quite common for such collisions to actually be the fault of the person in the semi-truck rather than the passenger vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviews what causes each of those crashes to better train truck drivers and reduce the number of commercial vehicle crashes that injure or kill members of the public. Here are just a few of the most common reasons that commercial drivers cause serious crashes.
1. They make the wrong decisions
Even years of experience and extra training can’t eliminate the possibility of human error. Truck drivers make thousands of small decisions every day, and occasionally they make the wrong choice.
Following another vehicle too closely, maintaining the wrong speed or even misjudging the angle of a turn are all examples of decision-making errors that lead to crashes. Reports indicate that roughly 38% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks are due to drivers making the wrong choices.
2. They don’t recognize issues in traffic
Recognition errors account for another 28% of the wrecks caused by semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. Recognition errors include when a driver is distracted and doesn’t notice a pedestrian on the road or when they otherwise fail to observe and respond to critical safety factors nearby.
3. They become unable to do their jobs
Sometimes, a truck driver is technically at fault for a crash not because of something they did but because they failed to act entirely. Non-performance is not about someone’s momentary hesitation but rather about an emergency that prevents them from taking appropriate action.
Sometimes, drivers fall asleep at the wheel and lose control. Other times, non-performance issues stem from adverse medical events, like a stroke or a seizure. Drivers who are unable to continue performing their duties are responsible for another 12% of the commercial crashes that occur each year.
Given that the average driver can’t do anything about these risk factors, their best option is to be very cautious when sharing the road with commercial vehicles. Learning more about semi-truck crashes and their causes can help other drivers make better choices on the road and to advocate on behalf of their interests in the event that they suffer harm due to a truck-related accident.