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What Are The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents may only make up a small portion of all vehicle accidents every year, but each accident can cause potentially significant injury and damage. In the United States, there are approximately 100,000 truck accidents each year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which is roughly 10% of all vehicle-related accidents across the country. [1]

But what are the most common causes of these truck accidents? There are a few common causes that we have outlined here that include: (click each title to learn more)


  1. Driver fatigue
  2. Distracted driving
  3. Speeding
  4. Failure to control the truck in Inclement weather
  5. Improper loading
  6. Poorly maintained vehicles
  7. Substance abuse

Truck accident lawyers understand how catastrophic and serious these crashes can be. There are many factors that can contribute to truck accidents. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents are discussed below.


Driver fatigue

truck driver sleeping on the steering wheel

As professional drivers, truck drivers have a very challenging job that requires a great deal of attention to detail and focus. However, truck drivers sometimes can work long hours and may be at higher risk of being tired, drowsy, or falling asleep at the wheel. Consequently, Driver fatigue can be a common cause of truck accidents because it can significantly impair a driver's judgment and reaction time, making it more difficult for them to safely operate the vehicle.

When a truck driver is tired, their ability to make safer decisions and react quickly to changing road conditions can be significantly impacted. In turn, this can increase the risk of an accident occurring, particularly if the driver truly is fatigued or in certain situations even falls asleep while operating the truck.

Because of the nature of their job as professional truck drivers as well as to protect the safety of the community and motoring public, truck drivers must adhere to very specific federal regulations. Some of these federal regulations dictate a truck driver's maximum hours of service that can be reached before a mandatory rest is required by law, often referred to as Hours of Service or HOS laws.


Distracted driving

person texting and drinking coffee while driving distracted

Like any other driver, truck drivers can be distracted by texting, eating, dispatch, passengers, or using their GPS. Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents for all types of vehicles, including trucks. When a truck driver takes their focus or eyes off the roads, it can increase the risk of an accident. Even a split second or a very brief period of time of distraction can be enough to cause a serious accident. As such, it’s important for all drivers to remain focused on the task of driving at all times to prevent accidents.

It can also be more difficult to control or stop a large vehicle, like heavy commercial trucks that are on the roadways. One thing to consider is that many of the newest smartphones can be set to go into a ‘do not disturb mode’ automatically while driving, which may aid in the prevention of distraction from a cell phone for both normal passenger vehicle drivers and truck drivers.



truck passing a car on a country road

When a truck is moving at high speeds, it can be more difficult to control and may take longer to stop. This can be particularly dangerous if the truck driver needs to make a sudden lane change or avoid an obstacle in the road.

In addition, the force of a truck's impact can be much greater at higher speeds, which can potentially increase the severity and subsequent injuries of any accident that does occur. It is important for all drivers to be aware of posted speed limits and to adjust their speed for weather and road conditions in order to reduce the risk of an accident.


Inclement Weather

Open asphalt road in winter

The failure to properly operate a truck in poor weather conditions such as rain, snow, sleet, fog, or ice, can be a common cause of truck accidents in Wisconsin and other states with snow, sleet, and ice sheets on the road because it can make it more difficult for a truck to stop or maneuver.

When the roads are wet or slippery, it can be more difficult for a truck to maintain traction and
control. It is important for all drivers to be very cautious when driving in inclement weather and to adjust their speed and driving style to account for the road conditions. However, truck drivers generally have a heightened duty of care in operating their trucks in inclement weather.

The FMCSA dictates under 392.14 that “Extreme caution must be exercised when hazardous weather conditions adversely affect visibility or traction as it relates to a motor vehicle. Drivers are required to reduce speed under such conditions. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, operations must immediately be discontinued until the vehicle can again be safely operated. In a case where the danger to the driver, occupants or other users on the road would increase by stopping, the driver may continue operating the vehicle until the nearest place the danger can be eliminated.”


Improper Loading

truck loading warehouse as seen from above during winter

Improper loading of a truck's cargo can cause an accident. Generally speaking, if the load is not properly balanced or secured, it can potentially shift while the truck is in motion, causing the truck to lose stability and potentially roll over.

This statement, however, is merely a summary and simplification of a complex physics situation and potential legal matter. In addition, an improperly loaded truck may be more prone to jackknifing or fishtailing, which can also increase the risk of an accident occurring. There are various procedures in place to make sure the cargo is loaded properly. This can involve multiple different processes as well as various entities or motor carriers.


Poorly Maintained Vehicles

close up of a truck tire that needs maintenance


Trucks that are not regularly maintained may have mechanical issues that can contribute to accidents. Poor vehicle maintenance is one of the causes of truck accidents because it can lead to mechanical issues that can affect the safety of the vehicle, thereby creating hazards and other conditions.

For example, if the brakes on a truck are not properly maintained, they may not work as effectively, increasing the risk of an accident occurring. In addition, other mechanical issues such as worn tires or steering problems can also increase the risk of an accident. It is important for truck drivers, owner-operators, independent contractors, motor carriers, and trucking companies to regularly maintain their vehicles and to address any issues that are identified in a timely manner in order to reduce the risk of an accident occurring.


Substance Abuse

doctor discussing information with patient

Substance abuse, including the use of drugs or alcohol, can cause truck accidents because it can impair a driver's judgment and reaction time. When a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, generally their perception/reaction time can be affected. This can increase the risk of an accident occurring.


How to Avoid Truck Accidents

Based on our experience investigating and successfully handling truck crashes for decades, there are several steps that traditional drivers, truck drivers, and trucking companies can consider to avoid situations that could lead to truck accidents:


  1. Get adequate rest: make sure to get enough sleep and schedule breaks to avoid driving while tired.
  2. Avoid distractions: avoid activities that take your eyes off the road, such as texting, eating, or other distractions.
  3. Be aware of posted speed limits: be aware of posted speed limits and, of course, appropriately adjust your speed for weather and road conditions.
  4. Drive defensively: always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to react to any potential hazards that may arise.
  5. Maintain the vehicle: Trucking companies, motor carriers, and truck drivers should ensure that their vehicles are regularly maintained and any issues are addressed in a timely manner.
  6. Do not use drugs or alcohol: refrain from using drugs or alcohol prior to and while driving in order to keep yourself and the public safe on the road


Truck Accident Statistics:

Truck accident statistics are important because they provide insight into the causes and frequency of these types of accidents. It allow sus to better understand the impact truck accident have on communities and even states. The following graphic illustrates the truck accidents based on State from data collected in 2020.



Speak to a Truck Accident Lawyer

There are several reasons why you may want to consider hiring a lawyer after a truck accident. Call us to receive a free case evaluation: (414) 276-6666. It is so important to speak with a law firm that understands the complexities of truck accident law. The rules and regulations that apply are specific and nuanced. We have had tremendous success in representing those injured or killed in truck crashes for decades.

1 - A quality truck accident law firm can help you navigate the legal process: A knowledgeable law firm and lawyer can help you understand your rights under the law.

2 - A truck accident law firm can help you get just compensation: In certain situations, insurance companies may try to settle your claim for as little as possible right away, before knowing the severity of injuries involved or the permanent nature of such injuries.

It is important to fully evaluate past pain, suffering, disability, future pain suffering, disability, past wage loss, future vocational loss, past medical expenses, future medical expenses, and other areas. In some situations, additional legal causes of action can be pursued. A powerful law firm with significant resources on your side will help you get the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies and trucking companies are not your friends when it comes to achieving maximum compensation for your harm and losses.

3 - A truck accident law firm will handle the legal work so you focus on healing from the aftermath of a horrible trauma. We will deal with the trucking company, their lawyers, and insurance companies. We strive to help you not just financially but emotionally as well. The aftermath of a crash can be overwhelming. We can handle these tasks for you and free up your time to focus on your recovery and emotional well-being and physical well-being.

Overall, hiring a powerful and successful truck accident law firm can be beneficial because it can help you get the money you deserve and also alleviate some of the stress and burden of dealing with the legal process. In a truck accident, it is important to contact a truck accident law firm right away!

We are a large firm with resources and a top-notch team! Our staff of over 120, including attorneys, investigators, and professional staff, who are passionate and aggressive. We have an excellent trucking team that focuses on serious truck crashes. We are proud of our results. Contact us today at (414) 276-6666 for a free and confidential consultation. One Call…That’s All!

Yes, it's always worth it to hire a car accident lawyer. It's also a good idea to contact a lawyer after a minor car accident.




Disclaimer: This post provides general information but is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

Steven Gruber car accident attorney
( Personal Injury Attorney )

Attorney Steven Gruber was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His family has deep roots in the Wisconsin legal community, as his father, David, founded Gruber Law Offices almost 40 years ago and his mother, Nancy, is a managing attorney with the firm. Steven is an award-winning attorney who focuses on serious injury cases and firm strategy and operations. Some of Steven’s awards and memberships include National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Top 10 Attorney in Wisconsin by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, just to name a few. He has successfully handled cases regarding serious matters that have been publicized by the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC, Fox and many other media outlets. At Gruber Law Offices, Steven also manages and leads a powerful team of 130 talented professionals. He is proud to continue the family legacy of positively impacting our community.