The Biggest Misconception About Trucking Wrecks

Blue semi-truck on highway

Whenever a discussion about trucking accidents comes up, those in the trucking industry are quick to claim that the majority of truck crashes are the fault of the passenger vehicle. That’s only a partial truth. Before uncovering the truth of these tragic crashes, we need to address the biggest misconception about trucking wrecks.

Are Four-Wheelers to Blame?

For more than 20 years, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has looked into the causes of trucking wrecks. Year after year they’ve found the same trend: Four-wheel vehicles are responsible for 75% of multi-vehicle commercial trucking collisions.

Other organizations, both independent researchers and interest groups, have found similar results. More recently, both the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found drivers of passenger vehicles responsible in 80% of multi-vehicle collisions.

At first glance, these numbers seem alarming, but remember that these only describe wrecks with more than one vehicle. It also doesn’t account for wrecks caused without a collision, like if a truck has a tire blowout and the rubber goes through a driver’s windshield.

What About Single-Vehicle Crashes?

Not every trucking accident involves a second vehicle. According to the US Department of Transportation, 40% of trucking wrecks only involve a large truck.

These crashes include factors like negligent maintenance (faulty brakes, failed refrigeration units, tire blowouts, etc.), weather, and factors affecting the driver (unfamiliar route, drugs and alcohol, sleep deprivation, etc.). Even when these incidents involve a single vehicle, they can injure the driver, cause property damage, or even harm a pedestrian.

What Does It Mean?

We have two critical pieces of information here. Passenger vehicles are responsible for about 80% of multi-vehicle crashes, but those crashes only make up 60% of all trucking wrecks. Here is the heart of the misconception.

If those figures from the department of transportation and other organizations are correct, it means that drivers of four-wheel vehicles are responsible for 48% of truck crashes. The other 52% comes down to a variety of factors.

These numbers are startling and sobering. There are 500,000 trucking wrecks in the US each year, accounting for 12% of all motor vehicle crashes. While passenger vehicles are responsible for about half, other factors account for hundreds of thousands of crashes per year.

Large trucks make up a minuscule percentage (0.007%) of all US motor vehicles, yet they are responsible for hundreds of thousands of crashes. There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the US. If 500,000 of them are involved in an accident each year, that means each trucker has a 1-in-7 chance of being involved in a serious crash each year. In any other job, that number would be unacceptable.

How Can We Fix It?

There are two huge contributing factors for trucking crashes: Drivers aren’t sure how to maneuver around trucks and truck drivers aren’t getting the training and vehicle maintenance they need to make successful routes.

The DMV has failed to equip new drivers with the skills needed to identify a truck’s no-zone, pass safely, There’s no portion of the driver’s test devoted to trucking knowledge, and any portion of the written test will be just one of several dozen scenarios. Preventing these accidents starts educating all drivers about the limitations of large trucks.

At the same time, trucking interest groups have pushed for loosened requirements to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). These efforts allow truckers across the country to drive tractor-trailers while putting in fewer hours behind the wheel than someone earning a traditional driver’s license. Given that, it’s no surprise that 1-in-7 US truck drivers will be in a serious crash this year.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a truck crash, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Canton car accident attorney from The Warlick Firm, PC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (678) 797-7705.