Truck accidents frequently cause severe injuries and fatalities to occupants of passenger vehicles. If you understand the common causes of truck accidents, you protect yourself and your passengers.
Are Truck Accidents Always the Truck Driver’s Fault?
According to 2017 crash statistics from the Virginia Department of Transportation, the blame for roughly half of all Virginia truck crashes belongs on the truck driver. Other national studies put responsibility on the truck driver a higher percentage of the time.
Common truck driver conduct that causes accidents includes:
- Improper driving maneuvers
- Distracted driving
- Drug or alcohol use
While you cannot control a truck driver’s conduct, you can be alert for a truck driving erratically, which can signal a driver issue. When you spot the signs, stay as far away from the truck as you reasonably can.
For accidents that are not due to truck driver conduct, a number of common causes exist.
Spotting Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Passenger vehicle drivers simply are not aware of truck maneuverability issues that cause accidents. Examples of common issues that cause truck crashes include:
Blind Spot Accidents
The blind spots around trucks are significant. Many car drivers simply do not realize or appreciate the danger of being in a truck’s massive blind areas. Acquaint yourself with truck blind spots to avoid this serious type of accident.
Wide Turn Accidents
Big trucks need wide berth when turning. Wide turn accidents — also called “swinging turn” accidents — are common. If you are near a truck that is getting ready to turn, stay a safe distance away.
If you are driving along — especially on an interstate or divided highway — and you see a big rig slam on its brakes ahead of you, lookout. When a tractor-trailer suddenly brakes hard and fast, the trailer often skids outward to a 90-degree angle from the cab. A jackknifed trailer can collide with passenger vehicles all around it.
If a tractor-trailer stops suddenly, an underride accident is another risk. Smaller vehicles behind the truck actually can go underneath the trailer. Underride accidents are frequently fatal. Always stay a safe distance behind when following a large truck.
Overweight or Improper Loads
A truck with an overweight or unwieldly load is much harder to maneuver than normal. Accidents often occur when a load shifts, or the truck driver cannot properly handle the truck due to the load. While you often cannot see what’s inside a trailer, if you see a big truck with a load that looks lopsided or overweight, stay as far away as you can.
Poor Weather Conditions
Many truck crashes occur in fog, rain, snow, ice, and high winds. Adverse weather conditions affect the truck driver’s ability to control the truck and trailer. Multiple-vehicle accidents involving trucks frequently occur in bad weather. Use extra caution in all these conditions.
Other Truck Crash Causes
Truck accidents often result from reckless or negligent drivers in passenger cars. In addition to being careful about your own driving, be alert to other passenger cars around you. They can put you in danger if you are near any big trucks.
Be on the lookout for signs that there’s a dangerous driver near you. Watch for drivers who show signs of:
- Inattention or distracted driving (like talking on a cell phone or texting)
- Improper lane changes
- Following too closely (tailgating) or failing to signal lane changes
- Aggressive driving or road rage
- Failure to keep a safe distance from other vehicles and trucks
- Frequent lane changes
- Erratic driving
If you spot another vehicle that shows signs of careless, inattentive, or erratic driving behavior, the safest strategy is to get as far away as possible. You may need to slow down to get out of the danger zone. An extra minute or two driving time is well worth making sure you and your passengers remain safe for the rest of your trip.
Why Understanding Common Causes of Truck Accidents Really Matters
Everyone should understand the common causes of truck accidents. Drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles always suffer the most severe injuries in truck accidents. Often, the truck driver walks away or receives only minor injuries. It is in your best interest to be able to spot a potential problem with a truck in traffic.
A passenger car driver often can avoid a truck crash by anticipating issues. Your vehicle is easier to maneuver than the truck. Often, you can avoid problem areas simply by slowing your speed and getting a safe distance away from the truck or other erratic driver.
Driving defensively is always the best way to keep yourself, your family, your friends, and others safe when you drive. Anticipating potential situations that could lead to a truck accident is one of the most important parts of good defensive driving.
Talk With an Experienced Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyer
If you received injuries in a truck crash because someone else was negligent, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney. That is the only way to make sure that you receive the full compensation you deserve.
Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer Jeff Brooke is a trusted, respected Virginia Beach attorney who dedicates his practice to helping injured victims and their families. If you suffered severe, long-term injuries in any type of accident, The Jeff Brooke Team is here to help. We always focus on your and your family’s interests and rights and aggressively pursue your case to get the full compensation you deserve. Contact us by phone at (757) 785-0837 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.