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Truck accidents are less common than car accidents but often have much more devastating consequences. Understanding the cause of big truck crashes is crucial for staying safe on the road and for people suffering after being involved in a wreck. Our truck accident attorneys in Indianapolis can help victims of a trucking accident to receive compensation for their damages by proving the trucker or trucking company acted negligently.

Many truck crashes are the result of a preventable problem. Read on to explore the common causes of truck accidents with Wagner Reese Injury Lawyers.

How Many Truck Accidents Happen Each Year?

The number of truck crashes has been slowly increasing over the years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018, there were 4,909 trucks involved in fatal crashes and 112,253 trucks involved in non-fatal injury-causing crashes. Those figures increased to 5,033 and 118,527 respectively in 2019, although it dropped to 4,842 and 106,902 in 2020 (the latest year for which data is available). The decrease is likely attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders.

However, the numbers vary across states. For example, coastal states like California tend to have lower truck accident rates than states in the center of the U.S. Per 2020 data from the NHTSA; large truck crashes comprised only 6.6% of New Jersey’s car accidents but 11.8% of Indiana’s. A glance at Indiana’s truck accident statistics reveals a surprisingly high rate of crashes and collisions.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

The most common causes of truck accidents are often related to mistakes or carelessness on the trucker’s behalf. However, the trucker’s cargo and vehicle can also play a role. Some common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Fatigue

Federal laws restrict truckers to no more than 11 hours of continuous driving, and they must take a 30-minute non-driving break after 8 hours. However, many truckers are pressured by their employers to spend more time on the road than the law allows. Additionally, irregular hours or crossing time zones can disrupt a trucker’s sleep schedule and circadian rhythm. Fatigued truckers have trouble concentrating on the road and risk falling asleep, significantly increasing the risk of a crash.

  • Impairment

Driving under the influence is less common among truckers than most other drivers. In 2020, only 3% of truckers involved in fatal crashes had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or higher.

However, truckers under the influence experience slowed reflexes, poor attention, and impaired decision-making, like every other drunk driver. Mixing the dangers of drunk or drugged driving with a large, heavy vehicle like a truck can have dangerous results.

  • Speeding

Commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than passenger cars, requiring longer distances to come to a stop. A trucker who is speeding is unlikely to have the distance required to safely stop the truck before hitting another vehicle, especially if they need to brake on short notice.

In some cases, speeding can also cause the driver to lose control of the truck. Bad weather conditions, tight turns, and driving downhill can put the truck at greater risk of tipping or accelerating too quickly and crashing.

  • Overweight Cargo

Carrying too much cargo weight can prove hazardous. An overweight truck is at risk of tipping on its side or building up too much speed when driving downhill, preventing the driver from stopping in time.

Excess weight can also contribute to malfunctions and tire problems; too much cargo can strain the tires and brakes, potentially leading to brake failure, tire blowouts, and subsequent loss of control.

  • Trucking Malfunctions

Malfunctions and mechanical failures are hazardous for trucks. One study found that any malfunction in a truck multiplied the risk of a crash by 200%, with unmaintained brakes and malfunctioning lighting systems causing a significant number of crashes. Despite this, an alarming number of trucks are not serviced as often as needed.

How Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

Even though big truck accidents are less frequent than passenger car accidents, they have far more severe consequences. In deadly crashes between passenger cars and trucks in 2020, 97% of the victims were in the passenger car. Those who survive the accident are likely to suffer severe injuries that prevent them from working and require long-term medical care.

However, getting compensation after you’ve been injured in a truck accident is challenging. Many victims of trucking accidents don’t realize they may need to pursue compensation from the trucking company rather than the driver, and battling the insurance agents and attorneys of a trucking company is difficult for the average person. An experienced truck accident attorney will be familiar with cases like yours and can help you successfully claim compensation for your injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident in Indiana, getting compensation for your damages may feel overwhelming. We’ll take on your legal battle at Wagner Reese Injury Lawyers and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.