Semi-trucks are efficient for the purpose of commercial transportation. They can haul thousands of pounds of materials and goods with the work of a single transportation professional. They can move perishable items like produce or milk from one side of the country to the other.
For the most part, semi-trucks have a net positive impact on the economy by providing high-paying jobs and keeping transportation costs low. Unfortunately, the size of commercial trucks makes them a major safety concern for those in passenger vehicles. Crashes between passenger vehicles and semi-trucks frequently produce catastrophic injuries and massive property damage. Semi-trucks cause a significant portion of these crashes. The following are the most common reasons semi-trucks cause collisions with smaller vehicles.
Drivers make the wrong decision
The top reported driver error associated with semi-truck collisions is a decision-making failure. A driver might maintain a speed that is too high given road conditions. They might get too close to other vehicles in traffic. Approximately 38% of the crashes caused by commercial trucks are the result of a semi-truck driver making the wrong decision.
Recognition issues are a concern too
The human brain generally struggles to keep up with all of the visual observations people make while driving. Recognition errors can occur because a driver fails to notice someone in traffic, possibly because of distraction. Recognition errors are the underlying cause of another 28% of crashes caused by semi-trucks.
Drivers may be unable to do their jobs
Non-performance is the technical term for a driver being unable to do their job. Roughly 12% of semi-truck crashes occur because someone fell asleep at the wheel or had some kind of medical emergency, like a cardiac event, that prevented them from appropriately responding to traffic conditions.
Vehicle issues are another concern
Approximately 10% of crashes caused by semi-trucks specifically occur because of an issue with the vehicle itself. It may have a multi-tire blowout that leads to a driver losing control. There might be bad brakes. Even issues with loading the trailer can cause a crash with major consequences for the people in the smaller vehicle.
Other causes noted in research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration include performance issues on the part of truck drivers, which cause another 9% of crashes, and environmental factors, which account for just 3% of the crashes that occur.
Understanding why semi-trucks cause collisions can, under certain circumstances, help people more effectively avoid these devastating wrecks. This knowledge can also prove useful in the wake of a wreck, when an injury victim is seeking compensation from at-fault parties.