Common Causes of Truck Accidents

What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Large commercial trucks (also known as 18-wheelers) are an imposing force on the road. These large trucks share the road with other cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, and travelers, and because of their size, weight, and load, they can pose a serious threat to others on the road. According to crash statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 5,237 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes nationwide in 2019. 5,005 accidents in 2019 involved large trucks (according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

If you or a loved one are involved in a collision with a semi-truck (or another large truck), you can be seriously injured and may sustain a traumatic brain injury, burns, lacerations, head, neck, or spinal damage, and/or other serious injuries. Below, we will discuss 8 common causes of trucking accidents as well as safety tips regarding how to drive around large commercial trucks.

Distracted Driving

One of the common causes of trucking accidents is distracted driving. Because of federal laws, truck drivers are prohibited from texting and driving while operating a commercial vehicle. They can face fines, the loss of their CDL, and other serious penalties if they are found to be texting while driving. However, texting and driving isn’t the only form of distracted driving. Commercial vehicle drivers can also be distracted by:

  • Talking to their dispatcher
  • Using their GPS
  • Eating, drinking, or smoking
  • Watching TV or listening to the radio or music
  • Grooming activities (i.e. doing their hair or makeup)


Truck drivers have very strict deadlines to meet concerning making their deliveries on time; in trying to meet their deadlines, drivers may speed. However, speeding is another common cause of accidents because drivers:

  • Are unable to stop in a timely manner and avoid a crash
  • May lose control of their vehicle and tip over or roll
  • Can hydroplane or skid in certain weather conditions

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers and companies must adhere to federal regulations concerning how many hours a commercial vehicle driver can be on duty. Under these regulations, drivers cannot work over 14 hours in a 24-hour period, and they can only drive for 11 of the 14 working hours. Even if a driver adheres to these regulations, they may get tired and try to avoid taking a break, which can lead to them falling asleep at the wheel or making reckless driving decisions (i.e. ignoring the rules of the road, swerving, driving more aggressively, etc.).


Impaired driving is a leading cause of truck and other vehicular accidents. If a truck driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they greatly increase the likelihood that they may be in an accident. In some cases, it is discovered that drivers may take drugs to stay alert or awake, and in other cases, it may be discovered that the driver has a history of substance abuse or other driving offenses.

Exceeding Weight Limits

Trucks cannot exceed the legal weight limits while driving on the interstates or roads. However, some trucks are overloaded to increase profits, and their additional weight can lead to even more catastrophic and severe injuries. Overloaded trucks present a variety of dangers to those on the roadways as they:

  • Take even longer to come to a complete stop
  • Are harder to control, especially during turns
  • Have tire blowouts
  • Can cause roadway collapses
  • Have an increased risk of a rollover
  • Are difficult for drivers to steer

Faulty Truck Equipment

Truck drivers, companies, and manufacturers owe other drivers a duty of care to ensure that the truck works properly and is well maintained. If a truck is not properly maintained, the vehicle’s parts may not work properly. An accident can occur because of faulty brakes, bald tires, broken headlights, or other defective parts.

Inclement Weather

Dangerous weather conditions can cause trucking accidents. Heavy rains, blizzards, or other inclement weather conditions can limit driver visibility and affect a driver’s ability to control their vehicle. During the bad weather, truck drivers also may not drive as cautiously as they should given the weather (by speeding, changing lanes suddenly, etc.).

Inexperienced or Unqualified Drivers

According to federal and state laws, truck drivers must have proper training and licenses before they can begin working for a company. However, some trucking companies allow unqualified drivers to make long-haul trips. Unqualified drivers are often involved in sideswipe accidents, rear-end collisions, and accidents caused by improperly secured loads.

Safety Tips for Driving Around Trucks

You also have a responsibility to exercise due care and drive safely. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe while driving around semi-trucks and other large vehicles.

  • Avoid driving in their blind spots. The larger a vehicle is, the greater its blind spot area is. To avoid driving in a truck’s blind spot, consider moving ahead of the truck, slowing down so that you are out of the blind spot, or switching lanes.
  • Pass the truck safely. If you plan to pass a large truck, you should approach from the left side of the vehicle, keep a consistent speed, and use your turn signals.
  • Allow for more space between your vehicle and the truck. Drivers are often taught and reminded to keep one and a half to two vehicles’ worth of space between their car and the vehicle in front of them. For large trucks, you should give yourself even more room and keep a safe distance from the truck. Even if you are at a red light or stop, be sure to leave plenty of room between your vehicles.
  • Account for a slower reaction time. Because of their size and weight, trucks do not stop as quickly as smaller vehicles. Give truck drivers the time they need to react to lane changes, traffic stops, turns, etc.
  • Be mindful of wide turns. Semi-trucks need more room to make turns and often may have to swing left to gain room for right rights. If a truck driver activates their turn signal, give the truck room and avoid driving between the truck and the curb.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, repeated honking, and other aggressive driving acts are not helpful and can lead to you endangering yourself or getting into an accident. While trucks often drive slowly, be patient and exercise due care if you decide to pass them.
  • Wear your seat belt. Under Colorado law, vehicle drivers and passengers must wear their seatbelts while the vehicle is in operation (on both the streets and highways). Not only will wearing the seatbelt help you avoid a ticket but it can also protect you if you are involved in an accident.
  • Avoid distractions. Truck drivers aren’t the only ones who can get distracted. To protect yourself and others as a driver, you should eliminate any distractions and avoid texting and driving, engaging in secondary tasks (i.e. eating, applying makeup, etc.), and being distracted by passengers in your vehicle.
  • Take rest breaks. While there isn’t a federal regulation that limits how long you can drive, you should take rest breaks or change drivers after long stretches when you are traveling long distances. You can get tired too, and it’s best not to drive drowsy.

Retain Our Firm

At the Law Office of Joseph A. Lazzara, P.C., clients take priority, and their needs and case goals are the driving force behind their case strategy. Known for my professionalism and compassion, I (Attorney Lazzara) am here to help you or your loved one fight for fair compensation. I can work with you to investigate the cause of the accident, establish liability, and achieve the best possible results.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident in Colorado, schedule your free consultation today. Call (720) 809-8262 or complete this online form.