Truck Accident Facts: Causes, Types, & Seriousness

Truck Accidents

truck accidents on freeway

There were more than 4,100 truck accident fatalities in the US during 2019. This number is especially alarming, considering the count has grown by 31% since 2009. Collisions involving big rigs, tractor-trailers, or other commercial vehicles can occur at any moment and often result in catastrophe. The best way to avoid one is to understand the causes, such as:

  • Which factors cause a truck accident?
  • What are the different types of accidents that can occur?
  • How common are injuries after an accident?

We will address these questions and more, so you can have a safe journey on America’s roadways. Here is your quick guide. 


Causes of Truck Accidents

Every commercial truck accident is different. Hiring a truck accident attorney will help determine how a particular traffic collision occurred. However, there are several general reasons why these crashes take place. 

Driver Fatigue

37% of American workers get less than seven hours of sleep every night. This leads to falling asleep at the wheel, due to driver fatigue.

There are laws in place to prevent truck drivers from falling asleep. For instance, truckers are required to take a break after eight hours of consecutive driving. Additionally, they must go off duty after a 14-hour shift and take a break for at least 10 hours. 

However, some companies disregard the laws, disallowing their drivers from taking breaks. This is crucial because most truckers sleep during this break period and replenish energy. Similarly, a motorist (like a car driver) may suffer from fatigue and crash into a fully-awake truck driver. Therefore, no one should get behind the wheel if they are not fully awake and alert.


In order to meet all of their scheduled delivery times, truck drivers may speed while on the road. Speeding makes it more difficult to come to an abrupt stop, especially for oversized trucks carrying heavy cargo. 

Additionally, a truck that turns while speeding has a weak center of balance. As a result, the center of balance may skew completely to one side, causing the truck to flip on its side.

In comparison, speeding drivers also crash into trucks and can cause serious damage. For example, a smaller car rear-ending a truck can force its cargo to fall out onto the road, causing accidents for neighboring vehicles.


distracted driving while texting

The most common form of distracted driving is using a mobile device while operating a vehicle. Texting, talking on the phone, skimming through social media, or any other form of phone usage takes drivers’ eyes off the road and in harm’s way. 

In addition, innocent distractions can take the form of other activities, such as switching radio stations, talking to passengers, or reaching for something that may have fallen off the seat next to them. Although difficult at times, the goal for motorists in smaller vehicles is to focus on the road, as well as remain cautious of surroundings (like an inattentive trucker). 

Poor Maintenance

Trucks require more extensive maintenance than passenger cars do. Engine oil can clog with dirt and debris after a few hours of movement. The steering fluid can run out, making it harder to maneuver the truck. 

All trucking companies have professional engineers who help maintain trucks. However, problems like contaminated engine oil can be hard to spot. This causes trucks to break down, resulting in collisions.


While on break, a truck driver may consume alcohol, which could appear harmless. However, even one drink can slow the senses and affect decision-making. For example, blurred vision will make it more difficult to spot road blockage, react, and dodge it.

Of course, the more drinks that are consumed will impede mobility and increase the chances of an accident taking place. Certain drugs can cause similar effects. Smoking small amounts of marijuana can slow someone’s reaction time. They may hit the breaks too late, leading to a rear-end collision. 

Also, some truck drivers take prescription medications, including cough syrup. These medications may be safe to use, but they can induce drowsiness. This can lead to an accident, just as sleep deprivation can. 


Types of Truck Accidents

trucks and cars on freeway

Truck accidents can be categorized in several different ways. For example, semi-truck accidents and tractor-trailer accidents are very different and result in different types of aftermath. Tractor-trailers are bigger than semi-trucks, so their accidents tend to cause more extensive damage. 

Other categorizations are based on how the accident occurred. Rear-end collisions occur when a truck crashes into the rear-end of a car or a car crashes into the back of a truck. Head-on collisions occur when two vehicles crash into each other while facing each other. These collisions tend to be more devastating than rear-end ones because the drivers are directly impacted.


Serious Injuries

Any traffic accident can induce a serious injury. But truck accidents tend to create worse injuries than car accidents because trucks are larger and heavier than cars. 

Head injuries are common in truck accidents. Upon impact, a driver’s head may collide with the steering wheel or against the car door. Sometimes, when this happens, the brain collides with the skull. This leads to a concussion that can cause cognitive impairment. 

Arm injuries are also common because passengers hold their arms out to brace for impact. They may break an arm bone, tear a muscle, or dislocate a body part. 

Seatbelts keep drivers and passengers from colliding against the interior of their vehicles. However, seatbelts can break blood vessels underneath the skin and cause muscle damage. With that said, still wear a seatbelt, but ensure that it’s adjusted at the proper level. Other less apparent but equally dangerous injuries are internal.  Bursting a blood vessel in an organ or in the brain can be fatal.

Regardless of how serious the injury appears to be, all parties involved in a truck accident must seek immediate medical attention. A doctor’s diagnosis saves lives and prevents injuries from progressing.


What to Do After a Truck Accident

truck accident lawyer

Truck accidents occur every day. A fatigued truck driver can fall asleep. But a fatigued car driver can crash into a truck as well. Distractions and faulty vehicles are two other prominent causes of accidents. Most people categorize truck collisions based on the type of truck and where the collision occurred. 

Any truck accident can lead to devastating injuries. Hitting one’s head against something inside the car can result in a traumatic brain injury. 

If you were involved in a truck crash, you may be eligible for compensation. Our attorneys at Alpha Accident Lawyers are well-versed in personal injury accidents, and they can help. Contact us and schedule your free consultation today.



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