The trucking companies, warehouses and private sector in the U.S. employ around 8.9 million people in trucking-related jobs. 15.5 million trucks operate in the U.S.. Of this number 2 million are tractor trailers. There are over 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S.. Because commercial trucks are so much larger and heavier than other vehicles, the majority of injuries and fatalities occur in the smaller vehicles or pedestrians that collide with trucks, or with pedestrians. According to the Department of Transportation, 45,000 traffic deaths occur every year within the U.S. Around 9% of those deaths involve commercial vehicles.
Many accidents involving commercial trucks are caused in whole or in part by car drivers. This is because car drivers often fail to understand the difference in maneuverability between passenger cars and trucks. Car drivers may cut a truck off, pull out in front of a truck and expect it to be able to brake quickly, fail to recognize that a truck is going to turn right while trying to drive around it, and be pulled by cross-wind when passing a truck. Some of the most common causes of truck crashes are:
Human error is a common cause of truck accidents. More than 8% of truck crashes occur due to a driver’s fatigue. If a driver is stressed or overworked, misjudges a situation, or experiences poor or hazardous road conditions, it can contribute to accidents.
An overloaded truck creates dangerous situations for both the driver and other motorists on the road. A heavier truck is more difficult to control, and debris may become loose and strike other vehicles. In addition, a heavier truck cannot stop fast and may jackknife or even flip over.
Mechanical defects are responsible for many truck accidents. If a truck has no under ride protection, or has a faulty cab-guard or other piece of equipment, accidents may be inevitable. For example, if the brakes are not well maintained, it can cause an accident by bursting tires, causing a truck to lose control, overturn or jackknife.