With their loud horn and intimidating profiles, commercial trucks basically demand that people give them space on the road. Most people defer to commercial trucks and try to give them plenty of space.
However, inevitably there are crashes between big commercial trucks and passenger vehicles every year, some of which have tragic outcomes. The more time you spend on the road, the more exposure you have to these massive and potentially dangerous vehicles.
Looking at the top causes of commercial truck crashes can give you some insight into how to stay safer on your daily commute or your next family road trip.
How often are commercial vehicles at fault for wrecks?
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, big trucks are responsible for 55% of the crashes that they experience.
In other words, when a commercial crash happens, it is slightly more likely for the commercial vehicle to be at fault as opposed to the passenger vehicle. In those cases, 87% of the crashes involve something the driver did. All three of the top commercial truck crashes have to do with driver behavior.
What driver mistakes lead to commercial crashes?
The top driver-related issue leading to crashes is making the wrong decision. About 38% of commercial crashes caused by big trucks are the result of the driver making a questionable decision about how to handle their vehicle, like going too fast on a curve.
The second most serious issue is recognition. In 28% of truck-caused collisions, the commercial driver fails to notice a person or vehicle because they didn’t check carefully or let something distract them.
The third driver-related issue is non-performance, which involves a driver unable to handle the vehicle. In about 12% of commercial crashes, falling asleep at the wheel or a medical event prevent the driver from responding to changing traffic conditions.
What does this information mean for you?
It’s crucial that you continue to give big trucks the respect they deserve. It is worth noting that the fourth most common reason, which contributes to 10% of all commercial crashes, may not be the fault of the driver. Issues with the vehicle itself, possibly due to inadequate maintenance by a trucking company, can also lead to a collision.
Unfortunately, as someone in the passenger vehicle, you have no control over the performance or driving habits of commercial drivers. At least educating yourself about the risks can help you take action if you ever do get into a crash with a big commercial truck.