If you’ve driven for any length of time, you have no doubt experienced sharing the road with a large semi-truck (and often, many trucks). If you’re nervous when driving behind or passing one, you likely have reason to be. Trucks weigh about 20 to 30 times more than typical passenger vehicles. And when a trucking accident occurs, it is rare that the truck driver is in danger. Most often, the victims who are injured and killed are occupants of smaller vehicles.

Truck accidents occur for numerous reasons, but there are some common causes that other drivers should be aware of. We’ll discuss several in today’s post.

Equipment Issues

Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for regularly inspecting, maintaining and repairing their vehicles, which suffer considerable wear and tear on cross-country trips. Unfortunately, these mandatory inspections often don’t occur or are done in a cursory fashion that doesn’t detect problems.

One of the most likely pieces of equipment to wear out and fail on a truck are its brakes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, trucks can require up to 40 percent more distance to stop (than smaller vehicles), and that’s when brakes are in working order. Imagine what can go wrong when the brakes not functioning properly.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel. If they are abiding by hours-of-service rules, they may still be spending 11 hours driving at a single stretch. And many drivers exceed allowable hours of service in violation of the law and common sense. That means they may be operating very dangerous equipment while fatigued or drowsy.

Moreover, studies show that truck drivers have a higher incidence of obstructive sleep apnea than the general population. This means that even if a driver gets the recommended hours of sleep, his sleep is of very poor quality, leaving him fatigued during his waking hours.

Aggressive Driving 

Most trucking companies pay only for the time the driver spends actually driving down the road. Whenever a truck is being loaded/unloaded or waiting to do so, the driver is essentially losing money. Unfortunately, any lost time from delays needs to be made up behind the wheel, and that can encourage speeding and aggressive driving.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured (or killed) in a truck accident, one of these hazards may have been the cause or a contributing factor. To better understand all of your rights and your legal options for holding the truck driver and trucking company accountable, please discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.