Unfortunately, large truck crashes aren’t a one-in-a-million occurrence. According to 2020 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 11.8% of fatal crashes in Indiana involved a large truck, higher than the nationwide average of 8.9%.
These crashes can have a wide-reaching impact. The NHTSA found that 71% of people who died in truck crashes were inside the other vehicles involved in these accidents, and not the trucks. Read on to explore the statistics and causes of truck accidents in Indiana and learn how Wagner Reese can help if you or a loved one suffers damages in a truck accident.
Where Are Truck Crashes Happening in Indiana?
A 2020 publication from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute places trucks into the broader category of commercial vehicles and doesn’t give specific data on large truck crash locations. However, the report indicates that 34.3% of commercial vehicle crashes occurred on interstates, while 23.1% occurred on state roads.
Nationwide, the majority of truck accidents (55%), happened in rural locations, with 67% occurring on weekdays and 72% happening between 6 a.m. and 5:59 p.m.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
In 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the results of the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, where they assessed the causes of previously reported truck accidents. Per the study’s results, 87% of large truck accidents are attributed to the driver, 10% to the truck itself, and 3% to the environment (such as road conditions).
What Contributes to Most Driver-Caused Accidents?
The majority of truck accidents, about 38%, resulted from poor decisions on the driver’s part. Some truckers drive over the speed limit or don’t slow down to account for weather conditions and then lose control of the truck. Others incorrectly estimate another vehicle’s speed or their truck’s ability to stop in time for a traffic light or crosswalk. They also tailgate other drivers, leaving no room to stop before a crash.
The second most common cause of truck crashes was “inadequate recognition,” accounting for 28% of accidents. Truckers can become distracted or not pay enough attention to the road, causing them to overlook something or someone. 14% of accidents were due to inadequate surveillance—in other words, insufficient awareness or monitoring of their surroundings.
Another 12% crashed due to a driver’s non-performance. An overworked trucker who fell asleep at the wheel, or a trucker incapacitated by a health problem (like a heart attack), is unable to control their vehicle.
The final 9% of crashes were caused by a driver’s mistake. For instance, they may have overcorrected when steering, leading to a rollover crash.
Factors Contributing to Vehicle-Caused Accidents
Many vehicle-caused trucking accidents are the result of some form of negligence. For example, brake failure or a tire blowout are often caused by not maintaining the truck to the standard required by law. While the driver is responsible for checking their truck for problems and reporting any issues to their workplace, a trucking company that fails to maintain or repair its trucks can be held liable for a subsequent accident.
Other crashes, particularly rollover crashes, can be the fault of improperly loaded cargo. Those loading the cargo must take care to distribute the weight evenly. If the loading company fails to ensure the weight is properly distributed, the truck can tip over while making a turn, with potentially deadly results.
How the Environment Can Contribute to Accidents
20% of truck accidents happened due to roadway problems in the environment, according to the FMCSA study. These include issues with traffic flow, such as congestion or previous accident, and physical environmental factors, like road conditions or weather.
For example, truck drivers who don’t account for the congestion may rear-end a stopped vehicle, or rain or snow can make the roads slick and decrease visibility, placing truckers at greater risk of a crash.
Environmental causes aren’t always weather-related. A badly maintained road or a road covered in debris can be dangerous territory for a truck with a higher center of gravity and that is hauling heavy cargo.
How Trucking Companies Can Contribute to Accidents
While truck crashes are often attributed to a trucker driving unsafely, the crash isn’t always the trucker’s fault. It’s common for part of the blame to lie with the trucking company they work for.
The trucking industry has legal limitations on how long truck drivers can be on the road to reduce the risk of fatigue. However, many truckers report feeling pressured to ignore these limits or drive more quickly. If this factor plays a part in your accident, an Indiana truck accident attorney from Wagner Reese can hold the negligent trucking company accountable.
The LTCCS also found that some drivers’ circumstances significantly contributed to the crash. Fatigue, prescription or over-the-counter drug use (such as stimulants to work longer), and lack of familiarity with the area (which should be provided to the driver by their employer) could make it difficult for the driver to stay awake, alert, and react quickly.
Schedule a Consultation with Wagner Reese Today
If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, the attorneys at Wagner Reese can help. We accept cases across the U.S. and will fight for you to get the restitution you deserve. We can help you hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions, including the driver, trucking company, or both, depending on how the accident occurred.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation to learn your legal options based on the circumstances of your case.