Common Factors Behind Truck Accidents

Truck accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities due to the massive size and weight of large trucks compared to regular passenger vehicles, which perhaps explains why large trucks account for 9% of all fatal crashes in the US. In 2021, 117,300 trucks were involved in injury causing crashes, and 5,788 people died. While there are many potential causes of truck crashes, research shows certain factors contribute more often than others.

Common Factors Behind Truck Accidents

Understanding the most common causes can help truck companies and drivers take steps to improve safety.

Distracted Driving

One of the leading contributors to truck accidents is distracted driving on the part of the truck driver, and this is a factor in 71% of truck crashes. Truck drivers face many potential distractions including cell phones, onboard computers, paperwork, eating, adjusting the radio, and more. Taking eyes and attention away from the road even briefly can have devastating consequences at highway speeds

Truck drivers should minimize distractions by pulling over safely to handle any non-driving tasks. Companies can also prohibit cell phone use while driving and install technologies to limit distractions from computers and other devices. San Diego truck accident attorneys at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers suggest enforcing strict distracted driving policies is crucial to reducing accidents. 

Fatigued Driving

Drowsy or fatigued driving is another major factor in truck crashes. Truck drivers often face intense pressure to meet tight delivery schedules, leading many to forego adequate rest breaks. Driving while tired slows reaction times, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment in ways similar to drunk driving. 

Trucking companies should realistically assess delivery timelines and adjust driver schedules to allow for sufficient off-duty rest. Drivers should prioritize getting adequate, quality sleep instead of trying to push through fatigue. Companies can install electronic logging devices to ensure compliance with hours of service regulations too. Being well-rested is essential for safely operating a 40-ton truck.


Excessive speed contributes to many large truck accidents, as it reduces a driver's ability to react and stop in time to avoid collisions. In fact, studies show that driving 5-10 mph over the speed limit doubles the chances of crashes. Truck drivers may speed to make up for lost time, but doing so significantly increases risks.

Companies should monitor truck speeds and reprimand speeding drivers. Drivers should leave early enough to allow for safe speeds without time pressure. Trucks should also have speed limiters installed to prevent traveling over set speeds. Allowing extra drive time and limiting speeds can improve safety.

Poor Maintenance

Faulty equipment due to lack of maintenance checks and repairs also causes many truck crashes. Key components like brakes, tires, lights and steering regularly wear down and require servicing. Driving trucks with deficiencies jeopardizes safety.

Fleet maintenance programs should ensure all trucks receive routine inspections and repairs based on mileage and schedules. Pre-trip inspections by drivers can catch problems too. Well-maintained trucks minimize risks of equipment failures leading to accidents.

By addressing these common factors of distracted driving, fatigue, speeding and poor maintenance, trucking companies and drivers can significantly reduce preventable crash risks. Putting safe driving first is essential to protecting truck drivers and the motoring public.