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Trucking Accidents and Fault

Casey Woodruff

Who is usually at fault when a serious trucking accident occurs? When tractor-trailers collide with smaller passenger vehicles, are the drivers of those passenger vehicles typically the negligent parties? According to a report from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), one of the best ways of making trucking safer—and preventing deadly truck crashes—is to understand the nature of relative contribution or fault in these accident scenarios.

Trucking accidents can be particularly severe, and they often result in fatal injuries. If you or someone you love suffered serious personal injuries in a semi-truck crash, you should contact a Naperville trucking accident attorney as soon as possible.

Learning More About Truck Accident Causation

As the report points out, there are a number of factors that contribute to the cause serious truck accidents.  These factors include — human error (actions or inactions by truck and automobile drivers),  mechanical problems , and environmental factors (road or inclement weather conditions).  Although most auto accidents do not have a single cause, experts indicate that most truck collisions do have a “primary, proximal error or other failure.”

How often do human errors, vehicle factors, and environmental issues play a role in causing a trucking accident? According to the ATA, “driver error,” or driver fault, is the primary cause of an accident in about 90 percent of all incidents reported.  In other words, most deadly truck crashes result from a driver’s negligence, or failure to drive with the kind of care we should expect when we are on the road. But are truck drivers the ones who are most often to blame?

Research Connects Car Driver Errors to Most Trucking Crashes

Truck driver fault does not tend to be the primary cause of most collisions involving a big rig and a smaller automobile. Based on research conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the following represents the fault percentages for both truck and car drivers:

  • Truck driver fault alone was to blame in about 16 percent of all collisions studied.
  • Car drivers were responsible for an accident in 71 percent of the crashes analyzed.
  • In about 10 percent of all accidents caused by driver error, both car and truck drivers were determined to be at fault for the crash.

What were some of the driver errors identified by the study?

  • Driving too fast for road conditions;
  • Improper following; and
  • Failure to stay in a lane.

Where and how do most of these accidents take place? Researchers have also taken a close look at the physical locations in which most trucking crashes occur and as the logistics of the collisions. The following statistics represent key findings:

  • In two-car collisions involving a passenger vehicle and a tractor trailer occurs, nearly 90 percent of all head-on crashes happened when the passenger vehicle encroached.
  • Passenger cars were also listed as the encroaching vehicles in about 88 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes and 80 percent of rear-end crashes. Around 72 percent of same-direction sideswipes were caused by an encroaching passenger vehicle.
  • In most backing crash fatalities (98 percent), trucks were the encroaching vehicle. However, backing crash fatalities account for less than 1 percent of all reported trucking accidents.

A dangerous truck accident can happen without warning. If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a trucking crash, you should discuss your case with a Naperville trucking accident lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to discuss your case.

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