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Truck overturned on highway

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

It is not just cars on the road. More and more, American industry relies on the transportation of goods, livestock, and other valuables across the country in massive vehicles; tractor-trailer trucks of enormous size crisscross the nation on an ever-expanding highway network. With more and more commerce occurring over farther and farther distances, truck use is increasingly common. With more trucks on the highway, there comes more of a danger of becoming involved in a vehicle accident with a truck. Thanks to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we can know what causes these crashes and what you can do to ensure that you insulate yourself from them as much as possible.

The Top 10 Reasons Truck Crash

When large trucks crash, the FMCSA investigates and tabulates the reasons why these vehicles cause injury. The top ten reasons, in descending order, that trucks crash are:

  • Brake problems
  • Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
  • Prescription drug use
  • Traveling too fast for conditions
  • Unfamiliarity with roadway
  • Roadway problems
  • Required to stop before a crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
  • Over-the-counter drug use
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Fatigue

While this list may seem daunting, there is a large difference between the most frequent causes of crashes and the factors that rarely play into this. As we have these numbers, we can create a plan of action to prepare for the most likely scenarios you may encounter while sharing the road with trucks.

Brake Problems

The single largest factor in trucks crashing is brake issues. With almost one in three trucks crashing with brake issues as a factor, steps can be taken to mitigate your exposure to a crash by brake failure. Keeping a healthy distance from the back of a truck where possible allows you to have more time to react to situations on the road. The FMCSA recommends leaving four seconds of distance between passenger cars and any tractor-trailer. As well, tractor-trailers require more space to stop at high speeds, meaning that you should also try to keep space between you and the trucks when you are ahead of them.


The second most common factor in a truck accident is driving too fast for the roadways or road conditions. Trucks, as has been shown previously, require longer periods of time to stop and have higher rates of brake failure, which means that if they are moving fast when they brake, they will become dangerous, as these are the two most common factors in truck accidents. If you see a speeding truck, try to either allow it to pass you or safely slow down to put distance between you and the truck.

Driving Under the Influence

Truck driving is an occupation that requires long hours alone on the road with incredible amounts of focus. For many, this sadly leads to substance abuse issues. 27% of truckers admitted to using drugs while driving, with most admitting to stimulant usage, such as cocaine, according to American Addiction Centers. Drugs can cause serious issues with reaction time, make a driver unable to be able to focus on the road, or could cause health issues for the driver while the vehicle is in motion. This can present itself on the road as erratic movement of the vehicle. If you see a truck driving erratically such as swerving, starting and stopping randomly, or taking unsafe turns, stay away from it. Slow down to allow it to pass, or consider taking an alternative route to your destination.


Weather conditions can cause trucks to lose grip on the road, be blown over, or cause the drivers to have reduced visibility. If you are heading to an area where you know you will encounter trucks, make sure that you are up to date on the current and future weather conditions. This can help you to make decisions on the road around whether or not you feel comfortable merging or overtaking specific vehicles.

If you or someone you love has been in a truck-related accident, Law Offices of Fred Tromberg can help. Contact us today at (904) 297-2063 to schedule a free case consultation.