What Is The Leading Cause of Serious Trucking Accidents 

the truck lies in a side ditch after the road accidentTrucking accidents are sadly a common incident on California roads, with possibly devastating consequences for those involved. These accidents can result in serious injuries, property damage, and even death. According to a recent report by the California Air Resources Board from August 2022, there are about 1.8 million large trucks that are registered in the state. 2021 data from the National Safety Council found that California was second among states with the most deaths resulting from large truck crashes, second only to Texas. Here, we will examine the leading trucking accident causes in California and what to do if you are involved in one. 

Top Reasons for Serious Truck Accidents in California

With nearly 2 million registered commercial trucks in the state, Californians share the roads with an increasing number of large vehicles. Just as with passenger vehicle crashes, the cause of truck accidents varies. 

Distracted Driving

One major cause of truck accidents is distracted driving, a fact backed up by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system.” Anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving is considered distracted driving. When someone drives distracted, the odds of making a mistake and causing an accident increase.

Drunk Driving

Under California law, it is prohibited for anyone with a commercial driver’s license to operate a truck with a blood alcohol content over .04%. Despite this, some truck drivers may take drugs or consume alcohol before or while traveling California’s roads. To convict a commercial driver for driving under the influence, a prosecutor must show the same factors they would for other drivers. Common signs of a motor vehicle operated under the influence include:

  • Failing to stay in one lane,
  • Speeding or going too slow,
  • Weaving in and out of traffic,
  • Sudden or jerky braking,
  • Inability to drive in a straight line, and
  • Nearly hitting signs, curbs, or other vehicles.

Common signs of a driver who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs include:

  • Loud or slurred speech,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Inability to walk in a straight line and stumbling, and
  • Inappropriate or exaggerated emotional reactions.

Neither of these lists is exhaustive, but they outline some of the most common signs to look out for if you suspect a driver is operating under the influence. 

Driver Error

Driver error is another major cause of truck accidents. This can include failing to check blind spots before turning or changing lanes, misjudging distances, making sudden changes in direction, and braking suddenly. These errors can lead to collisions and often result in serious consequences. 

Maintenance Failures

Truck companies often own the vehicles their employees drive and are responsible for keeping these vehicles in good working order. However, if a company or an individual independent contractor doesn’t maintain their truck and experiences vehicle failure or another issue on the road, it puts other drivers at risk and causes accidents.

Fatigued Driving

Fatigued driving is another common cause of truck accidents. Truck drivers often work long hours, which can lead to fatigue. When a truck driver is fatigued, they may not pay as close attention to the task at hand and can fall asleep at the wheel, leading to serious accidents and even death. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is a factor in 13% of commercial trucking collisions.

Poorly Secured Materials

Trucks carry goods from place to place. If those goods are improperly loaded into the vehicle or not properly secured, they can fall onto the road and cause accidents. Trucks should be loaded in a manner that evenly distributes weight and keeps everything secure while traveling at high speeds.

Poor Training

Driving a commercial vehicle isn’t the same as driving a passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, not all truck drivers receive adequate training before they hit the road. This can lead to dangerous driving habits and, unfortunately, accidents.

What to Do If You Are Involved in a Truck Accident

No matter the cause of a trucking accident, the first thing to do when involved in a collision is to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. If you are able, you can take the following steps to help ensure your rights are protected:

  • Call the police. One of the most important pieces of evidence in a trucking accident claim is the police report. California law requires that a driver or their representative make a written report with the California Highway Patrol or a local police department within 24 hours of the crash if someone is injured or dies or if damage to any vehicle or property exceeds $1,000. 
  • Gather evidence. If you are able, take as many photos of your vehicle’s damage as you can, as well as any injuries. Be sure to seek medical attention in the days following the accident to make sure there aren’t serious complications and to document your damages for any injury claims.
  • Contact your insurance company. Inform your insurance carrier of the accident, and file a claim as soon as you can.

If you need assistance or have questions about your rights, an attorney can help walk you through the process.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Trust Henderson Law

There are many common causes of truck accidents in California. No matter the cause, being involved in one of these collisions can be devastating. If you were involved in a commercial trucking collision and aren’t sure where to start, we are here to help. Michael Henderson has nearly three decades of experience and has won millions on behalf of clients throughout California. We handle each case with compassion and dedication and will fight hard to get the best possible outcome for our clients. To discuss your case, give our office a call and set up a consultation, or fill out our online contact form to get started today.