What are the most common causes of large truck crashes? 

If you spend any time traveling on SC’s highways, you know that 18-wheeler crashes happen far too often

But why? What is causing the outrageous number of large truck collisions on SC’s roads? 

Below, we will look at the results of research into the causes of large truck crashes conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), including:

  • The causes of large truck crashes,
  • The events that lead to semi-truck crashes, 
  • The factors that contribute to large truck crashes, and
  • The causes of tractor-trailer crashes with passenger vehicles.  

Causes of Large Truck Crashes

Accidents that involve a large truck/ tractor-trailer are often catastrophic – when a 30,000-pound truck meets a 4000-pound passenger car, the people inside the smaller vehicle are much more likely to suffer severe injuries or death. 

And it’s usually not the truck drivers who are paying the price – 82% of all deaths in large truck crashes are the occupants of the passenger vehicles the truck crashes into… 

The FMCSA’s causation study found that large truck crashes are usually the result of several different factors, some of which could take place weeks or months before the crash. For example, large truck crashes could be the result of:

  • Inadequate driver training and experience,
  • Faulty truck design and manufacture,
  • Poor highway conditions,
  • Faulty traffic signals, or
  • Adverse weather conditions. 

Other factors happen just before the crash, like:

  • Split-second decisions by the truck driver to turn or change lanes,
  • Tire blowouts, or
  • Icy road conditions. 

The study found some major factors that greatly increase the chances of a catastrophic trucking accident including:

  • Fatigue,
  • Intoxication, and
  • Speeding. 

Events that Cause Large Truck Crashes

Critical events that were the most common just before a trucking accident include:

  • 32% of the crashes studied began with the large truck driving into another lane of travel or off the road,
  • 29% of the crashes began with a loss of control of the truck caused by driving too fast for conditions, shifting cargo, mechanical problems, or poor road conditions, and
  • 22% of the crashes began with the truck colliding into another vehicle’s rear

Factors that Lead to Large Truck Crashes

The top ten factors that led to the large truck crashes in FMCSA’s study were:

  • Faulty brakes on the truck,
  • Traffic congestion (work zones or other auto crashes),
  • Use of prescription drugs,
  • Driving too fast for conditions,
  • The truck driver’s unfamiliarity with the area,
  • Road conditions,
  • The truck failing to stop (at a red light, stop sign, or crosswalk), 
  • Non-prescription drug use,
  • The truck driver failing to keep a proper lookout, and
  • Driver fatigue. 

Causes of Large Truck Crashes with Passenger Vehicles

In the study, one-half of the crashes that they looked at involved a collision between a large truck and a passenger vehicle – the top factors that caused these crashes were similar to the overall factors, but there were a few differences. 

The top ten factors leading to large truck crashes with passenger vehicles were:

  • Traffic congestion/ interruption of the traffic flow,
  • The truck driver’s unfamiliarity with the area,
  • Failing to keep a proper lookout,
  • Driving too fast for conditions,
  • Illegal maneuvers,
  • Inattention,
  • Driver fatigue,
  • Driver illness,
  • Wrongly assuming what another driver was going to do, and
  • Distracted driving. 

Alcohol and illegal drug use, fatigue, and illness were more often a factor on the part of the driver of the passenger vehicle than the truck drivers when the crash involved a passenger vehicle. 

Determining Liability After a Large Truck Crash

Who is liable after a large truck crash? 

Liability is determined by the law of negligence – if the passenger car driver or pedestrian involved in a large crash was negligent, they are liable. 

Many large truck accidents are caused by the drivers of cars or other vehicles who are intoxicated, who fail to keep a proper lookout, or who commit traffic violations like speeding or disregarding a traffic signal. 

On the other hand, many large truck collisions are caused by the truck driver or other third parties who are responsible for the maintenance or loading of the truck. Depending on the facts of the case, multiple parties may be liable for the crash, including:

  • The driver of the truck,
  • The driver’s employer,
  • The owner of the truck,
  • The truck manufacturer or a parts manufacturer,
  • The person or company responsible for maintenance on the truck, 
  • The person or company responsible for securing the truck’s load, or
  • Other drivers who contributed to the crash. 

How Do I Prove Liability After a Large Truck Crash? 

Your Myrtle Beach trucking accident lawyer at Coastal Law will investigate the crash, using expert witnesses including accident reconstructionists as necessary. 

We will review all evidence we recover through our independent investigation and the discovery process in your civil case to determine whether the truck driver and others complied with federal laws and regulations including hours of service regulations, and our experts will analyze data from the truck’s black box, or event data recorder (EDR), to determine information like:

  • How fast the truck was moving,
  • Whether the truck driver attempted to avoid the accident,
  • Whether the brakes were applied before the crash, and
  • The amount of time that passed between the application of brakes and the crash. 

Large Truck Crash Attorneys in Myrtle Beach, SC

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a large truck crash in SC, the Myrtle Beach trucking accident lawyers at Coastal Law will investigate the crash, the driver, the trucking company, and the causes of the accident to help you determine who is liable and to recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to under SC law. 

Call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or send an email through our website to set up a free consultation and case review with a SC trucking accident attorney today.

Ready to Speak with an Attorney?

Contact Coastal Law to discuss your situation.

Get in Touch

20 Years Representing Locals & Tourists
+ +