Truck accidents are often caused by driver mistakes and inattention, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study. The study reviewed data from truck crashes that caused death or injury between 2001 and 2003.
The study found that brake problems in trucks accounted for nearly one-third of truck crashes during those years. Following close behind were speeding drivers, who were responsible for 23 percent of the crashes. Drivers who were unfamiliar with upcoming road conditions accounted for 20 percent of the total, and drivers using over-the-counter drugs made up another 17 percent. Drivers’ failure to pay proper attention to the road, fatigue, and feeling under pressure from their employers, all accounted for another large share of big rig crashes. FMCSA notes that many truck crashes may have had multiple causes.
FMCSA also compared the truck driver data with information about passenger cars that had collided with the trucks in the study. The data showed that alcohol use, fatigue, and illness on the part of the cars’ drivers made collisions with an improperly operated truck even more likely, since such drivers were less able to drive defensively to protect themselves from the accident.